The first rose – Primrose

Mar 20, 2020

When I look around my garden at the moment, there are waves of pretty crocuses, cheery daffodils and pink blossom appearing on the trees but the real show stealers are the primroses.

Cream and yellow primroses

Through the exceptionally wet and dull winter we’ve had here in Nottingham these guys have thrived and are looking better than ever. Plus, they are one of the first common edible flowers of the season to bloom. So if you have primroses in your garden and can eat them safely, you have a real treat for sure.

Primroses are native British plants, their name originating from the latin prima rosa, which means ‘first rose’. Of course they aren’t roses, they’re not even a member of the rose family, but in my mind they deserve this grand title. Their late winter flowers bring a beautiful display as well as a sweet scent and they are one of the earliest sources of food for pollinators. On top of all that, they keep flowering right through to the summer.

These plants from the Primulaceae family are quite happy growing in situations that others won’t tolerate (damp, shady areas) and that seems to give them an extra air of dignity – holding their heads up and still looking good, even in the least glamorous conditions.

Apricot and blue coloured primroses

The common primrose that you might spot in woodlands or under hedgerows are usually yellow or cream in colour but there are many more multi-colour varieties for the garden and they’re oh so cheerful!

Salad with primrose petals and lollipops with primrose petals

As edible flowers primroses are so versatile. They can be used in savoury dishes like salads and are equally as lovely with sweets and cakes either fresh or crystallised. Freeze them in ice cubes to pretty up your drinks or simply float them in a cocktail or mocktail.

Primrose with cocktail and cake with primroses

If you’re feeling a little more adventurous you can make a wild herb syrup with primroses (recipe on the Eat Weeds website) , primrose cordial (recipe on the Enchanted Living website) or primrose honey (recipe on the ecologist website).

So next time a huddle of colour low to the ground catches your eye, take a closer look and remember everything that this non-assuming little plant offers. Every time I spot them in a shady corner or growing out of a wall they make me smile and think “hello spring”.