The arrival of primulas cheers GINA PARKINSON as she can’t resist these lovely flowers.

PRIMULAS fill nurseries, garden centres and market stalls, with their tempting bright flowers putting us in the mood for the garden. Think of almost any colour and there is likely to be a primula to fit the bill, from plain petals through to picotee and even striped.

I have already succumbed more than once to the lure of these lovely flowers. The pale yellow ones pictured could be my favourite, especially for a shady spot in woodland or under a deciduous hedge.

They are similar to the wild primroses that pop up in the countryside. It’s perhaps a little early for them yet in the wild, but it won’t be long before they make an appearance.

Another time I spotted purple and lilac ones with slightly darker foliage than the pale green pictured.

These look marvellous at the feet of the brightly stemmed Cornus Midwinter Fire featured in this column a couple of weeks ago.

They are a little like Wanda primulas with dark crinkled foliage, in the centre of which nestle flowers in shades of purple and pink and occasionally yellow and white. Wanda seem to have been surpassed by the bigger, brighter plants that abound each March.

A bunch of pink primulas has been planted at the corner of a bed recently filled with ornamental grasses. As few of the grasses are evergreen and others only just beginning to emerge, the primulas make a lovely point of colour to liven the bed up.

Most are unnamed plants, but a couple are labelled as Woodland Walk which, if you like the colour, come in varying shades of lovely rich pink.

The latest but probably not the last purchase has been three blue-striped primulas. These are very popular this year and make a striking addition to a spring container. Mine are planted in a blue glazed pot by the front door, along with blue muscari, chionodoxa and puschkinia. Later bronzed, curled fronds of Astilbe will begin to grow through and will soon hide the fading foliage of the bulbs.

Primulas need little care once planted apart from regular watering if they are in pots or a dry part of the garden. They will grow in most situations but seem to look best in semi shade where petals and foliage look fresher for longer.

Once the flowers have faded in late spring or early summer, the plants can be lifted and divided if large enough, before being potted up and put somewhere shady, either in a spare bit of a bed or in pots. They can be replanted next spring in their flowering positions.

Keep them well watered through the summer and check for vine weevil the grubs of which love primula roots.

In the veg patch

OUT walking with friends last Sunday, it emerged that some had been out the day before planting broad bean seeds.

These soon appeared two camps: those who prefer an early sowing, followed by a later one to give two crops.

Others do theirs later, with the argument that May sown plants always catch up with those sown in cold March soil.

I won’t be putting mine straight out, although for the reasons above. It is simply that the mice in our garden are geniuses at sniffing out the exact spot that our broad beans are sown.

Mine will be put in pots and kept near the house where the cat patrols. But I will try some early sowings this year as it is just too hard to resist the nag to get started.

Big garden ideas from Mr Biggs...

GARDENING writer, broadcaster and lecturer Matthew Biggs will give an illustrated talk entitled ‘Ideas from the Back Gardens of Britain’ on Tuesday.

Organised by Askham Bryan College Gardening Club the talk will be held in the Conference Hall at the college and begins at 7.30pm.

Matthew trained at Kew Gardens and in his 25-year career has visited many gardens in the UK, including small suburban plots, inner city allotments, roof gardens and country estates. His lecture will introduce the audience to some of the owners of these gardens and consider what can be learnt about gardeners and gardening from them.

Tickets to the lecture are free to Askham Bryan College Gardening Club members and £7.50 for visitors at the door. There is plenty of nearby free parking and complimentary teas and coffees will be served after the talk.

For more information about the talk and ABC Gardening Club please contact David Whiteman, publicity officer, 01904 707208.

Gardening TV and radio


7.30am, BBC2, Gardeners’ World. Getting the best from hellebores.

8am, Vale Radio, Down to Earth. William Jenkyns, who hosted a horticultural programme on BBC Radio York for many years, returns to the airwaves as he asks green-fingered, or not so green-fingered, listeners to share ideas. Vale Radio can be found at and on the app.

8am, BBC Radio Humberside, The Great Outdoors. With Blair Jacobs and Doug Stewart.

9am, BBC Radio York, Julia Lewis. News and features from the gardens and countryside of North Yorkshire.

9am, BBC Radio Leeds, Tim Crowther and Joe Maiden.

2pm, BBC R4, Gardeners’ Question Time. The team answer questions from an audience in Dartmouth. With panellists Matthew Wilson, Anne Swithinbank and Bunny Guinness and chairman Peter Gibbs.


9pm, BBC2, Kew on a Plate. Raymond Blanc and Kate Humble re-establish a kitchen garden at Kew with tips on growing and cooking.


3pm, BBC R4, Gardeners’ Question Time. Matt Biggs, Pippa Greenwood, Chris Beardshaw and Peter Gibbs advise gardeners from Oxford.

8.30pm, BBC2, Gardeners’ World. Monty Don champions chrysanthemums while Joe Swift offers advice on revamping a spring garden.