Today, the 19th April, is Primrose Day. Once recognised nationally but now a date on the calendar that bears little or no significance. So, what’s it all about?
“And all England, so they say,
Yearly blooms on Primrose Day.”
Henry Cuyler Bunner
The primrose is the prima rosa of the year and belongs to the primula family of which there are roughly 1,000 varieties. The one we see at this time of year, adorning banks, verges and hedgerows woods across the country is the common primrose. An insignificant name for a lovely little plant with its soft yellow flowers rising on hairy stems from tough leathery leaves.
The 19th April 1881 was the day on which Queen Victoria’s favourite prime minister, Benjamin Disraeli, died. Queen Victoria sent a wreath of yellow primroses with a note referring to them being “his favourite flowers.” Naturally it was assumed that she was referring to the primrose being Disraeli’s favourite flower but it was later believed that she had in fact been referring to her beloved Prince Albert. Nonetheless Primrose Day was formed and wreaths of primroses were placed on Disraeli’s monument for many years.
Not only does the common primrose have its own day it also has its own county! In 2002 the organisation Plantlife led a nationwide campaign to identify and designate a native wildflower to each county. The people of Devon voted for and elected the primrose and so it is of special significance to all of us here at Suttons. Being based in Paignton, Devon, we are lucky enough to have the lovely primrose as out county flower.
If you don’t already have primroses growing in your garden, then now is perhaps time for a rethink. Preferring cool semi-shaded areas of the garden these plants are ideal for woodland edges, banks and for growing under hedgerows. In a well-drained yet moist soil primroses will flower year on year and will readily self-seed and naturalise.
Why not surprise your friends and neighbours by wearing a primrose buttonhole today in honour of national Primrose Day? Queen Victoria would have been amused.