You’ve all heard of primrose yellow, but let me introduce you to primrose blue. As a flower colour blue is something of acquired taste, especially when it doesn’t come naturally. Could there be anything more abhorrent than a blue rose, a turquoise chrysanthemum (please note Tesco cut flower buyer) or, worse still, a sapphire orchid? And yet few blooms are as rich or vibrant as those of delphiniums, campanulas or gentians, which are blue through and through.
In part it’s about what we are accustomed to. This may be why I am not quite sure about the pot of marbled, lavender-blue primroses I currently have on my deck, purchased on a whim at the garden centre. They just about get away with their curious colouring on account of veering towards mauve but, like many bedding plants, they have that slightly too processed look about them. Too many flowers, not enough leaves.
Blue is not uncommon in primroses, although rarely could one describe the colour as true blue. Among the doubles, P. ‘Blue Ice’ is a deliciously chintzy powder blue, whilst old favourite P. ‘Blue Sapphire’ is a kind of faded indigo. Last year at the RHS Plant and Design Show I ran into P. ‘Blue Zebra’ for the first time; a flower that looks too much like cheap Chinese crockery for my liking, but the novelty of which will doubtless win fans. Perhaps the prettiest of the lot are the violet blue singles, including P. ‘Blue Riband’ and P. ‘Hall Barn Blue’, which sport masses of delicate golden-eyed flowers. Positioning them alongside other blue and yellow flowers is probably the best bet.
As for these chaps they’ll be straight on the compost heap once they finish flowering. Give me a primrose primrose any day.