Cowslip is an European primrose with clusters of drooping fragrant yellow flowers. (Richie Steffen)

Cowslip is an European primrose with clusters of drooping fragrant yellow flowers. (Richie Steffen)

Great Plant Pick: Primula veris aka cowslip

Cowslip is an European primrose with clusters of drooping fragrant yellow flowers.

What: A harbinger of spring, Primula veris brightens the garden with its multiple golden yellow flowers. Cowslip has a smidgen of orange to reddish color at the base, inside each flower. In “A Midsummer’s Night Dream” William Shakespeare wrote about this European native: “The cowslips tall her pensioners be. In their gold coats spots you see. Those be rubies, fairy favors. Their sweet smells come from those little freckles.” Indeed, cowslips have a light fragrance that wafts upon the springtime air.

Where: Plant these primroses in light to open shade. For the best growth a soil that is rich would be ideal, although clay or sand would be fine, as well as long as it is well-drained.

Size: Cowslips grow to 9 inches tall and 1 feet wide when mature.

Care: Water these perennials regularly during the dry season. If given the right conditions, these plants will self-sow creating a vivid multitude of flowers. However, they generally do not spread beyond into drier areas.

— Richie Steffen, Great Plant Picks

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