This little primula is enough to brighten up yet another rainy day. Around the garden we have many patches of self seeded native primroses, or Primula vulgaris, but we also grow these primulas cultivars, which are direct descendents of the classic spring flowers. The name primula comes from latin meaning “first”, referring to its early flowering in the late winter and into the spring. They are perennial plants and after they have finished cheering us through such gloomy days we transport them back to the nursery beds until the following year. They can be found in many guises, any of a number of rainbow colours such as buttercup yellow, deep blue, cerise, with coloured eyes, single or double blooms and even with dark leaves. They are a magnet to the slugs and snails, who are enjoying this mild winter, but they shrug off a bit of a chew without much detriment. Primulas have been cultivated in this country for centuries and were extremely popular in Elizabethan times, but like flared trousers and suet pudding they have drifted in and out of fashion. Like many of the early cultivated plants its primary role was not for decoration but as an ingredient in herbalism where it was used for many remedies including as an expectorant and mild sedative. Primulas enjoy moist soil and part shade, a winning combination for us at Cliffe, and as they are officially the county flower of Devon it seems fitting that we have plenty adorning our borders.