Primrose

Pale Yellow English Primrose;
aka, Cowslip or Oxlip


Love in the open hand, no thing but that,
Ungemmed, unhidden, wishing not to hurt,
As one should bring you cowslips in a hat
Swung from the hand, or apples in her skirt,
I bring you, calling out as children do:
"Look what I have! -- And these are all for you."

-Edna St. Vincent Millay
(1892-1950)

   

Primula x polyantha are hybrid primroses, crosses especially of P. veris & P. vulgaris, although this pale yellow fairly obviously has the European Oxlip P. elatior as a signal part of its heritage.

Such hybrids come in sundry colors & forms, most of them with yellow eyes no matter the color of the petals. But the ones sold in front of supermarkets are most often single giants. Such are bred for rapid production & rapid sales & are only sometimes garden-hardy, sometimes perennializing very well to return year by year as a larger clump, but more often growing weaker rather than stronger over time.

This pale yellow polyantha primrose has naturalized at the edge of a garden in which I do occasional landscaping. It's in a comparatively harsh area with more sun & less water than primroses usually require, together with many other primroses.

A couple weeks before this portrait was taken, the leaves in the primrose patch were at first very much gobbled up by snails, but a quick addition of Sluggo organic slug & snail bait not only stopped the predation, but functioned as a fertilizer for the primroses, which at mid-March were looking good enough to photograph.

Ordinarily they do best with some shade, loose acidic organically rich soil, persistently moist but not soggy. They do need some sun, too, & with extra water will do well in full sun, especially in the coastal Northwest where late winter afternoon sun ends with quite an early sunset. But in harsh sun the clumps tend to grow dormant in summer, whereas in a protected moist location the leaves can be nearly evergreen through much of winter.

   



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