Indeed, the Latin name, Primula vulgaris, means first flower.
The primrose is a pale shade of yellow, with tiny flowers measuring 2-3 cm.
Here in Galway they are more often to be found low on the hedgerow banks, along the side of the fields and near trees and stumps in the woodlands.
As I follow the narrow lane where I live I can see them dotted here and there under the hedgerows.
If I continue on down the lane for a half mile or so, I come to a small rectangular stone-walled field.
In spring, the undergrowth of these hedgerows is vivid with the yellow of the wild primrose.
I can’t tell you how much it cheers me up to see this after a dark Galway winter.
It is no wonder that myth and legends attach to this plant, particularly here in Ireland
There is a great deal of myth and legend attached to this little plant, all of it true of course…
THE PRIMROSE KEY TO HEAVEN
Celtic people considered the Primrose to be sacred and they believed that it held the key to heaven.
Primroses apparently also shared this magical key with their cousins, the cowslip.
Thinking of the harsh lives our ancestors lived as they faced the winter with little or no heating, growing barely enough food to survive, and dependent on the seasons for their crops, I can only imagine how pleased they were to see the first primrose of spring.
Primroses represented the renewed growth of crops and the return of food to their stomachs.
Ancient people also liked to spread primroses on the doorstep to encourage the fairies to bless the house.
More folklore has it that if you eat the flowers of the primrose you will see a fairy.
Now, I have eaten the leaves of primroses before and they did make a tasty addition to a salad.
Sadly, I am yet to see a fairy.
But, in the interests of science I will keep on trying and I promise you will be the first to know should a fairy flutter her wings in my direction.
With their delicate beauty and timely presence it is wonderful to be able to enjoy growing primroses in our gardens.
I am lucky enough to have a semi wild garden with primroses already in residence.
But, if you don’t have any wild primroses and are thinking of planting some, then be very, very careful.
Because if you let the primrose die you will incur the wrath of the fairy folk and nobody wants that.
Enjoy your gardening.
For more flowers of the Wild Atlantic Way click right here.
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