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Time For Primrose Power

English Country Garden

“How many kinds of sweet flowers grow
In an English country garden?
We’ll tell you now of some that we know,
Those we miss you’ll surely pardon.”

Lyrics extricated from the song “English Country Garden”, by James Frederick “Jimmie” Rodgers.

Following on from the snows which arrived courtesy of Storm Emma last week, looking out through our kitchen windows we must admit that our gardens, with the exceptions of those few daffodils growing in one corner, are looking just a bit deadbeat and colourless.

However, this would not have been the case if we had planted some of the earliest of spring bloomers those delightful primroses, (Primula polyantha), which with today’s variations, offer such a multiplicity of form, size, and colour. Primroses, which range in colours from white, traditional creamy-yellow, cream, purple and blue, yellow to orange, and red to pink, have easily shrugged off the severe cold of Storm Emma, and will continue to bloom right into the summer, adding magnificent colour well after spring bedding plants have come into maturity.

Take Note: Right now, while stocks last, these colourful plants can be found right here in Thurles, in the O’Driscoll Garden Centre, Mill Road, Thurles, Co. Tipperary (Telephone: (0504) 21636).

Ten assorted, mature primrose plants will cost you a mere €12.50 (inclusive) for all 10 plants, thus offering spectacular value for truly extravagant colour.

This garden centre is renowned countrywide for all manner of garden lovelies, such as trees, shrubs, perennials, alpines, climbing plants, ferns and herbs and is an oasis for those anxious to locate that extremely rare and unusual plant.

Primrose
The name primrose, of course, comes from the Latin ‘prima rosa’ meaning “first rose”.  These perennials (Perennial … meaning plants that remain leafy from year to year or evergreen), should be planted in a lightly shaded area with well-drained soil, preferably amended with organic matter. Set the plants about 6 to 12 inches apart with roots set 4 to 6 inches deep. Do water thoroughly after planting, trying not pour over the plants themselves. Good idea also to add a layer of mulch around each plant to assist in retaining moisture.

Suitable for planting almost anywhere in garden flower beds and borders, as well as in window boxes and other larger flower containers; once given proper growing conditions, these vigorous plants will multiply each year, adding stunning colours to your garden space.  Remember, primroses do appreciate a light application of organic fertilizer, throughout the growing season.

Like most other garden plants, the primrose will come under attack from slugs, snails and aphids, but these can be easily controlled using non-toxic slug bait in the case of the slugs and snails, together with soapy water in the case of aphids.
Of course, if these delightful flowers are simply left in the ground, when they have finished flowering this spring, they will sit happily throughout the late summer and winter, to once again burst into flower next spring.

Try Crystallize Your Primrose Blossoms
Primrose flowers are edible and while they do not exactly taste delicious on their own; when coated with sugar they can be transformed into rather a tasty decoration, with which to beautify your baking, e.g. cakes and even desserts.

  • Lightly beat the white of one egg with a teaspoon of cold water to make up an egg wash.
  • Make sure the flower blossoms are clean and if you have to wash them, allow them to dry on kitchen paper towelling, before continuing.
  • Dip or use a clean previously unused artists brush or a pastry brush to paint the egg wash unto the entire surface of each flower blossom, both back and front.
  • Pour approximately 1/4 cup of white or brown granulated sugar into a bowl, (Note: Icing sugar is not fit for purpose in this case). With the flower bloom now coated in egg wash, place it in with the sugar; coating as much of the flower’s surface as you can, before placing it face-down on a surface lined with greaseproof paper. Leave your blooms to dry for 1-2 days; until they stiffen up.

Once hardened, these decorations will decorate delightfully, your cakes, buns, and desserts.

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