It's almost time to harvest the pussy willow and the daffodils are beginning to come on strong in anticipation of ushering in a lamb-like March and what do I find blooming among the the winter-time mulch and layers of fallen, decaying leaves but primroses! The ones blooming in my garden are Primula Vulgaris, a common variety often found lighting up the produce and floral sections of the grocery stores around here. Come to think of it, I have yet to see them in the grocery stores so far this year. However, there they are blooming creamy white and bright yellow outside in my herb garden. Surprise! What a lovely little surprise they are, too. While late March into early April is when they usually appear in outdoor gardens, apparently, they could not wait any longer for the first days of spring and decided that this warmer than usual February is as good a time as any to reveal themselves.
The primrose is a hardy herbaceous perennial with characteristic five-petaled flowers on short stems that are surrounded by crinkly leaves that look a little like lettuce and although they come in a variety of colors ranging from white to purple and even two-toned to three-toned, the sunny yellow hues are often considered the most hardy of the colors. To me, the yellow reminds me of little sunspots sprouting brilliant rays of lightness to the garden that is just beginning to awaken. These happy little blooms are also edible, used in salads, preserves, as a garnish and can even be made into a tasty spring wine.
Wild or cultivated, the genus Primula (primrose) has been popular for centuries with not only gardeners who love them in their spring flower borders, but also with poets and authors alike because of the meanings primroses convey. Shakespeare cited the primrose in several of his works from "A Midsummer Night's Dream" to "Hamlet" while his homeland, England, honors this flower with it's own day, Primrose Day celebrated on April 19, each year, as proclaimed by Queen Victoria back in the 1800's. How cool is that for a pretty little flower that lives among so many other flowers that could probably be considered way prettier...like for instance an actual rose, the peony or even a lilac?!...Just sayin...
Anyway, in the language of flowers, the primrose represents youth and ardent young love, often conveying the message by the sender that he/she "cannot live" without the one the primrose is being presented to. Being one of the earliest spring bloomers, the word primrose comes from medieval English as well as Old French, meaning "first rose" and can also represent the concept of "womanhood." Very apropos for a hardy, yet lacy, early bloomer that can bring beauty to a windowsill, easily grace a tabletop and even fill a room with the sweet scent of spring.