Daily Flower Candy: Primula vulgaris ‘Taigetos’

I do so love it when a plant utterly defies the wrong situation and flourishes, when really it should turn and fail. In our London garden we count on such miracles, as the conditions we can offer are far from ideal. Last spring I purchased three pots of Primula vulgaris ‘Taigetos’ from Christine Skelmersdale of Broadleigh Gardens, and was advised by the great lady herself to plant them somewhere that would be dry in summer. This reflects the prevailing conditions in the mountain ranges of the Greek Peloponnese from whence these delicate little flowers originally came.

Primula vulgaris 'Taigetos', Broadleigh Gardens, RHS London Spring Plant and Design Show 2014

In our dank, sun-deprived London garden dry-anything is a big ask, so I planted my charges beneath a magnolia tree with minimal hopes for their future. Not once did the ground dry out last summer and I fully expected my primroses to slowly rot away, as so many other plants do in our poorly drained soil. But no, Primula vulgaris ‘Taigetos’ is a survivor, tougher than its Mediterranean origins might suggest. Delicate, milky-white flowers started to appear at the end of January and are now covering each plant, lighting up a very gloomy corner of the garden. Soon the blooms will completely swamp the plants, mingling with yellow epimediums and narcissi to create a pretty spring tapestry. They make look frail and vulnerable, but the flowers of Primula vulgaris ‘Taigetos’ are a lot tougher than they look.

Plants are available from Broadleigh Gardens priced at £4.50 each or £12 for 3. They are completely sterile so there’s no risk of polluting any native primrose populations you may have nearby.

Primula vulgaris 'Taigetos', London, March 2015