Precious Primula

There are currently 430 species of Primula. These plants are very amenable to hybridization and doubtless many varieties have come and gone over the centuries. The wild primrose seen in Britain at woodland edges, clinging to banks and rocky hillocks has a subtle yellow hue with a darker yellow centre. Seen en masse the colour appears to be darker, but close-up the primrose's hue is of the faintest but prettiest yellow - perfectly suited to Spring's blue sky.



It is the primula - polyanthus growing in my own garden that I press. Doing so is fairly easy if using a microwave press with one caveat! It is best to keep checking that the moisture has gone from the flower, but you will still be able to gently tease the flowers away from the cloth. If too much heat is applied in one go then the wafer-thin flowers will stick to the cloth and become very brittle. Another point to note is that the pigment will change once heat is applied to some of the polyanthus colours.


©Sandi Phillips


Yellow tends to stay the same, however, pinks turn purple as do the reds. Once pressed polyanthus are quick to turn brown once exposed to light. This is great if your desired effect is one of sepia tones, but not if you are relying on a colour to stay true if it is the centrepiece of your project.


©Sandi Phillips



Primula scotica


The above primula is endemic to the north coast of Scotland and the Orkney Isles. Its leaves are hairier than other primula. In the UK it is illegal to pick flowers or the plants of wild primula (and that includes the ever-decreasing cowslip [Primula veris]). This form of primula grow on calcereous soil and prefer sunnier and drier conditions to other primula. The cowslip flowers in April and May, so follows on from the earlier flowering primula.

The oxlip [Primula elatior] grows in Switzerland and in a small area of the UK. Primula vulgaris subsp. sibthorpii grows in the eastern Mediterranean and is coloured mauve. The mountains of Greece, Majorca and Sicily have Primula balearica, a white subspecies which is rare. A primula is represented on one side of the Austrian five cent euro coin.

Candelabra primula have whorls or umbels of flowers on a single erect stem and come in many colours. These varieties of primula thrive in acid to neutral soil which is moist or poor-draining. As with other primula they also prefer shady conditions.



©Sandi Phillips

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