Primrose 'Guinevere'

"Follow me weeping to my turf, & there
Let fall a primrose, & with it a tear."

-Robert Herrick


The primrose 'Garryarde Guinevere' (or just 'Guinevere') was grabbed at random in autumn 2002 by Granny Artemis the instant she saw its purply-green or bronzy rosette of leaves, setting it so greatly apart from the usual primroses.

We didn't know what it would look like in bloom or anything about it, just that the leaf color was unique & it would bring color into a low leafy patch of garden, whether or not it was blooming.

Looking it up later, we found it listed as a "Juliana" primrose such as are hybrids generally between P. juliae, P. vulgaris, P. pruhoniciana or P. margotae.

Guinevere'Garryarde Guinevere' is often listed as P. juliae or with no species suggested; but it is actually P. pruhoniciana x margotae.

It spreads slowly upon stolons, & can be divided every few years in autumn, or just before spring, if it seems to be too big for its allotted space.

Its blooms are a soft lilac-pink with yellow center. These appear in April & last through May. The first photo shows it just beginning to bloom in early April 2003 when it was still a very small clump. The second photo is from mid-April 2004. Intruding into the second photo is one succulent-like leaf of Primula auricula.

Both parts of its cultivar name are frequently mispelled. Garryard, Garryade, Garyarde, or Guinivere are typical "alternate" spellings.

It is one of the older hybrid cultivars, having first appeared in an Irish garden in 1935. It's far hardier than the majority of modern varieties.

It's an evergreen of the polyanthus group. Its showy leaves make a fine choice for the winter garden, even though it does not bloom in winter as do so many other primroses.

It's justly a recipient of the Award of Garden Merit given to plants of longstanding garden value, beauty, & ease of cultivation.

Not many primroses have the beautiful magenta-bronze leaves, but others that do so include 'Garryarde Edith' with a bronzy sheen to its leaves, & 'Garryarde Crimson' which has red-bronzy leaves, as does 'Garryarde the Grail.'


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