AN EARLY spring flowering plant I would never be without in my garden is the native primrose. Flowering its heart out even in the coldest spring its lovely scented yellow flowers are pleasing to the eye for us and also give bees and other insects an early spring boost.
Along with our native primrose there are also many other varieties available some of the best are the Kennedy Irish Primroses selected and bred by Joe Kennedy over many years for their dark leaves and simple contrasting flowers. The first one I grew, and still one of my favourites, is P.v. ‘Dark Rosaleen’ which has dark bronzy leaves and rich, deep red flowers with a pinkywhite stripe on each petal carried on single and polyanthus stems. P.v. ‘Innisfree’ has similar foliage with velvet red flowers with a yellow eye.
A more recent addition is P.v ‘Avondale’, a very free-flowering green leaved variety with delightful soft pink flowers, a thin white stripe through each petal and an ochre yellow eye. There are many other varieties in the Kennedy series in a range of colours with more being trialled before release; they are all tough plants, preferring a cool moist shady spot; they cope well with clay soil as well as better drained.
I have also grown them in winter and spring containers where they look really effective on their own or planted with small evergreen grasses such as Carex varieties; they make a fabulous long-lived addition to any garden.