Primrose Lore

Garden centres are gearing up for the mad rush and gardeners are gearing up for visits to garden centre. Its a win-win situation.
Before the mad rush, I visited my local Country Life yesterday and came away with nineteen plants for a tenner. A single Aubretia Kitte Blue, a container of twelve cauliflowers and six beautiful promroses. The variety is unknown. While primroses are generally known to be yellow, it’s not always the case: there are so many varieties and colours available now.
I chose the stunningly vibrant lilac/pink ones standing erect on tall stems. The petals are so precisely formed, and right in the centre is a contrasting yellow. Within an hour, I had planted them into larger pots and they look great among the other spring plants.
Later, during the course of several gun battles on television, I elected to open up my Irish Wild Plants book. Primroses are given a chapter to themselves. Here are some items of information relating to them:

  • Long ago in Ireland, people used to hang a string of primroses over the door at the start of May. It was said that the primroses would protect the house as the fairies were not able to pass.
  • In many places primroses given as a gift should be a very full bunch or else misfortune would ensue, and a single primrose brought into a house was an omen of death.
  • In herbal medicine primroses were considered useful to treat jaundice, insomnia, tuberculosis, toothache and anxiety.
  • Coughs in horses were cured using crushed primrose roots strained in breast milk and put into the horses’ nose frequently!
  • In Irish it’s name is sabhaircín (pronounced sour-keen)
  • Finally, the Druids often carried primroses during their Celtic rituals as a protection from evil. Fragrant primrose oils were used to purify and anoint during these ancient rites.

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