It may still be early in the year but if you are looking to maximise the enjoyment of your garden this year then it is already time to start thinking about spring bedding plants. Two of the mainstays of spring bedding are Primroses and Polyanthus. These members of the Primula genus have long lasting, vibrant flowers which will enhance pots and hanging baskets for weeks during February and March. They will also blend perfectly with other spring stalwarts like Pansies and Violas.
We often get asked what the difference is between Primroses and Polyanthus – well, it’s really quite simple; as a natural hybrid between the wild Primrose and the Cowslip (Primula veris), the Polyanthus always holds it flowers well above the foliage on a stem, rather than nestling in amongst the leaves, as Primroses do. This means they are very good for providing height to your bedding scheme.
Charles Darwin was the first to recognise that whilst the flowers of Primulas appear the same, each plant will carry either ‘pin eyed’ or ‘thrum eyed’ flowers, where the stigma and anthers are held in different ways, ensuring that they don’t self-pollinate when bees come calling – improving genetic diversity.
Did you know that the young leaves may be eaten in salads, and the flowers can be crystallised and used for decorating cakes and puddings? In medieval times a dessert was made using the flowers ground with rice, almonds, honey and saffron to form a ‘Primrose pottage’. Primroses had medicinal uses too, among them cures for muscular rheumatism, paralysis and gout. An infusion of the flowers was used against nervous hysterical disorders, or the ’phrensie’!
At Monkton Elm the vast majority of our bedding plants are sourced from local nurseries. This means that all of our stock is guaranteed to be fresh and also allows us to keep tight quality control on the plants we buy in. It also means less travel miles for our stock, so in turn the environment wins too. Our bedding plants are often on multi-buy deals, and if you pair this with the pot sale we currently have in our patio department, then you do not have to break the bank to brighten up your early spring patio.