Lovely Cowslips multiply.

I have mentioned a few times,  that a very dear friend of mine, who sadly died a number of years ago from cancer, gave me 3 plants of cowslips, Primula veris. I planted two of them in the woodland and the third by my greenhouse. The one by my greenhouse did really well, it was on a slight slope in semi shade, soon I had plenty to start putting them elsewhere in the garden, especially at the end of the bog garden. This photo is of some that are determined to stay by the greenhouse.



I moved about 25 cowslips here from beside the greenhouse last year, thinking I had moved them all, but when looking the other day, I found I still had about 20 there, more to move someday!!


They have all moved very well and seem happy in their new home.


At this time of year when I am walking through the large flower bed I am reminded so much of my friend who gave me the original plants, these must be their grandchildren!


There’s plenty of room for them to seed around in their new home and to move the twenty that are by the greenhouse!


Here we have one of the ones that was planted in the woodland, they have multiplied well, but not quite as freely as the others.


Also in the woodland we have quite a few primroses, Primula vulgaris, and of course, over time the inevitable has happened!

Ox lip

They have been breeding together and we now have Oxlips or Primula elatior! Or have we?  I have read about something that is called a false oxlip, maybe this is what we have, perhaps someone can tell me. This one has taken its colour and height from the cowslip but the size of the flower from the primrose.

Ox lip

This one, only a few inches away, has the flower colour and size definitely from the primrose but height from the cowslip.


I had read that cowslips sometimes produce a red flower but was very surprised when I saw this, it was so large.


Other colours started to appear…….


…..these have all been put into a bed, far away from the yellow ones, where they can misbehave together!

My friend always said that she wanted to see drifts of cowslips in my garden. I now have the drifts but it is such a shame that she isn’t here to see them, but what a wonderful reminder they are of a really good friend and the happy times we spent together when our children were young.

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18 Responses to Lovely Cowslips multiply.

  1. Alberto says:

    There is this Italian gardener Paolo Pejrone who wrote a book titled ‘never alone in the garden’. He explains that in every beloved and tended garden there always are some plants, cuttings or seeds that we received as a gift from a friend, so when you look at those plants you remember these frieds, near or far, dead or alive and you never feel on your own. It’s kind of odd because I received this book from a dear friend of mine who died of cancer too. She gave me many other things that now nemind me of her and make me feel close to her again somehow.

  2. Pauline, I have long wondered what the difference was between oxlip and cowslip primula, now I know! Lovely to have a reminder of someone dear in the garden.

  3. Pauline says:

    Dear Alberto. I couldn’t have put it better myself, plants are wonderful for reminding us of friends, near and far, the garden is always full of memories. Your book by Paolo Pejrone sounds wonderful, treasured because it was given to you by your dear friend.

  4. Pauline says:

    Deborah, I now need to know , what is the difference between an oxlip and a false oxlip! The cowslips are a lovely reminder of my friend, increasing each year, I must e.mail some of the photos to her daughter.

  5. I love primroses and especially P. veris. However, mine have never seeded. I have been trying to get orange primroses for my garden without success.

  6. Pauline says:

    I seem to get more seedlings by the greenhouse Carolyn, where they are on a slope with good drainage. They aren’t spreading so quickly in the woodland where there is more moisture. The orange cowslips turned up all by themselves, nothing to do with me!!

  7. Beautiful! I love the colors in the last one. I wish that I had a damp spot in our garden… it is on my wish list for someday. How fun to walk through that section in the spring. Thanks for sharing!

  8. Pauline says:

    The last photo shows one that turned up all by itself, looked strange among all the yellow ones. We are lucky having the underground stream, looking forward to seeing all the other primulas that we brought back from Scotland last year and other moisture lovers!

  9. Pauline, It is nice to have such a remembrance of an important friendship. Isn’t interesting how the cross pollination of the cowslip and primroses are producing new colors and plant forms. I wonder if the new cross pollinated plants would produce offspring that are true to the parent or if they might revert back to one of their grandparents?

  10. Pauline says:

    Jennifer, I will wait and see what happens with the new seedlings, who knows what I will get!! I’m sure we all have plants given to us by special people, gardens are full of wonderful memories.

  11. Christina says:

    Plants and flowers are always wonderful reminders of the person who hgave them to you. They are also the plants that seem to ‘do’ very well too, as if the love of the friend helps them to grow! I have many such plants too. Thanks for sharing your memories as well as the beautiful blooms. Christina

  12. Pauline says:

    What a lovely thought Christina, “that their love helps them to grow”, I like that. I think we must all have plants that hold treasured memories as well as others bought from the garden centre, I know which I prefer!

  13. debsgarden says:

    The soul of a garden is determined by the special memories and sense of history that grow there. Yours is so beautiful, and what a wonderful memorial to your friend. She would be very pleased!

  14. Pauline says:

    Thank you Deb, I think she would be happy with how they have multiplied too! I now find them in the most unexpected places, certainly not planted by me, who knows who else is at work in my garden!

  15. it’s always lovely to have plants that remind/remember family and friends especially when they spread themselves around,
    Pauline of your 2 yellow oxslips from the oxslips I have the one with a single pale yellow primrose flower is nearest, sorry I can’t remember where this info came from but I remeber it well even made some notes as I have primrose, oxslip and cowslip, apprently it was thought for years that oxslips were a cross between a primrose and cowslip but recent technology and study have revealed that the true oxslip can’t be a cross as there is something in it’s genetic make up (the details were given but it was beyond me) that makes it not possible hence the ones that look similar to an oxslip but are a cross between cowslip and primrose the false oxslip, so if there are no oxslips near by that could have seeded in they are both false oxslips,
    I only found out this year from reading Kate’s blog that primroses come up in different colours, mine never have they always come up true,
    primrose and oxslips like damp woods but cowslips like open fields, so I have read, my cowslip has only produced about 3 seedlings in more than twice as many years, this would explain why your cowslip by the greenhouse has seeded more freely, kind of proving what I have read,
    I love them all you have a lovely show there, Frances

  16. Pauline says:

    Many thanks Frances for all your information, often wondered what the difference was between oxlips and false oxlips, had a feeling that mine were false! I have never had primroses come up different colours, just the cowslips, will wait to see what happens in the future.

  17. the Kate’s blog I mentioned is Beangenie I was trying to remember when I was writing but couldn’t she is in west Wales and posted lots of various coloured primmies in her garden, I’d never seen or heard of such a thing and thought all coloured ones were cultivars (if that’s the right word) or native in other parts of the world, Frances

  18. Pauline says:

    Thanks for coming back Frances, I have seen photos of Kate’s lovely meadow with all her different primroses, such a beautiful sight and amazing what nature gets up to by herself! I got quite a surprise when my first red cowslip opened up until I looked it up and read that it quite often happens.

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