Golden Jewel – Kildare Post Gardening Column

Below is my gardening column for the Kildare Post which appeared in print on 9th of April 2014. With spring well and truly under-way it is no wonder that this column was dedicated to the mighty native Irish Primrose. Ever since a child I have been a fan of Ireland’s wild primroses and I always get excited when I see the pale yellow flowers start to appear. It really does feel like spring when I see them.

Primrose – A Golden Jewel by David Corscadden

I vividly remember as a child walking along the winding country roads near my Grandmother’s house in Meath and being drawn to these yellow specks peeking out from the long grass. By the time I was older, and had learned that these little yellow flowers that fascinated me so much were in fact primroses, they had become a very rare sight.

For many years they became scarce along the roads leading to my grandmother’s house. Thankfully now they are staging a comeback becoming a regular sight between April and May along the verges and embankments throughout the country.

The native Irish primrose, traditionally a pale yellow in colour, is Primula vulgaris or in Irish is called Sabhaircín. While the majority of primroses you will come across on your walks in woods and the countryside will be yellow, some species have been recorded in shades of pink and white. Ever since a child I have found primrose yellow to be a true colour of spring.

Photo 23-03-2014 13 12 19

While in a garden setting its rough textured leaves offer great interest, in the wild the primrose’s flowers are the main attracting feature. The flowers are normally two to three centimetres in size with five petals which are all connected at the bottom. The flowers are found a top a long stalk which means the flowers energetically move with the slightest breeze.

While the wild primroses are a spectacular plant and in some parts can be found in large clumps, it is very important to remember not to pick or dig up the plants to use in your own garden. Many people believe that this action could be to blame for the plants dwindling numbers a few years ago.

Luckily within Kildare there are a number of places to enjoy wild primroses in the wild. Most recently I stumbled across a good number of them along the river and up around the lake in Castletown House, Celbridge.

If you are looking to add some Irish primroses to your garden you are in luck. Thanks to the very successful partnership of primrose breeder Joe Kennedy and nursery man Pat Fitzgerald it is now possible to buy primroses which are bred from varieties which date back to the 19th Century.

I have a few in my own garden. For the best impact it is good to try and mimic situation where they would be found in the wild. So for me I think they look great at the edge of a flower border or just beneath a deciduous shrub or tree. Kennedy Irish Primroses are available nationwide and can be bought in Kildare in Johnstown Garden Centre, Naas.