The ever-colourful Primrose

Gardens Galore

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Spring planting time is just around the corner and gardeners everywhere are pouring over gardening magazines envisioning their own unique style.

Whether it's a hot, dry yard or one drenched in shade, gardeners are, if nothing else, persistently determined to work with nature ... or challenge her.

Tackling a shade garden, or even a shady spot, and having a modicum of success can be exhilarating.

Ask any English gardener what is one of the hardiest plants and, yet  appears to be delicate, and the answer invariably leads to primroses.

In brilliant jewel tones, these little wonders do exceptionally well in moist, shadowy areas with rich but slightly acidic soil and filtered or dappled light.

Primroses are also excellent as companions to other shade loving plants and will be quite happy nestled among ferns, hostas and other foliage plants or even under blooming shrubs.

Early bloomers, such as the English Primroses with their smaller wide flowers, will lend themselves very well amongst the almost austere tulips and, among the easiest to grow, is the Japanese Primrose with its slightly ruffled leaves.

The early spring is a good time to buy these perennials so that you can see their colour.  The plants should be robust and green and those with ragged leaves or brown or black lesions should be seriously avoided.

If  you decide to fill planters or window boxes with these little beauties, once they stop blooming in the summer, transplant them into the garden where they will be among the first to peek their heads up again next spring.

When planting into the garden:

  •  dig a trench that is 6 inches deep and approximately 8 inches long loosening the soil along the sides of the trench

  • add two cups of well-rotted compost and mix with soil adding a cup of water to moisten well

  • remove the plant and loosen the root ball with fingers

  • set the plant in the hole so that it sits at the same level as  it  did in the container, in the middle of the trench and fill with soil and tamp down firmly

  • water well and cover with a one-inch layer of wood chips and water regularly so that the soil is continually moist, particularly in dry weather

In the fall, cover the primrose bed(s) with fir branches and mulch heavily for winter.

Whether it's the ' or the 'English or Japanese Primrose, the rainbow of hues of the 'Barnhaven Doubles' or the 'White Emperor'  will immediately add light and draw the eye to what otherwise would only be a dark corner.


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Friday, April 09, 2010