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primula family


By Bernard

Cambridgeshire, United Kingdom Gb

In the wooded bit of my garden, I have a selection of Primroses and Cowslips that are a joy. I understand that both of them have two kinds of flower and if both aren't present in the same area the pollen can't be transferred between them, and seeds can't be produced. Apparently Shakespeare wrote in 'The Winter's Tale' of 'pale primroses that die unmarried'
What I'm not sure about is whether there are Primulas that aren't Snowdrops or Cowslips. Can anyone clarify this for me? Garden centres can be a bit careless in describing these plants it seems.



Hi Bernard, the two kinds of flower you are talking about are called 'pin' and 'thrum', the first being the little boy and the second the little girl. If you have a seection in the woodland it is very likely that you have both and so they should multiply.
Assuming that you didn't mean to write snowdrops, there are very many different types of Primula. In the garden Centre you are most likely to find these two plus polyanthus (multicoloured primroses with several flowers on a stem) and candelabra primulas which are similar to your cowslip but with several whorles of flowers up a tall stem. Beyond that there are whole books devoted just to primulas. It would take a week or more to read all about the different types and I don't intend to spend the next month writing about them:-). lol.
There is a big and famous nursery in Cambridgeshire that is also well known for its steam engines - wish I could remeber the name! They have a large selection of primula which will be, mostly, correctly named.
Yes, it is Bloomes, Adrian Bloome is a well known writer and broadcaster and I am sure that you will be able to find more information on the web,

31 Mar, 2009


Hello Bernard,
Primroses and Cowslips were cross pollinated to make Polyanthus. Snowdrops are a monocot, nothing to do with Primroses or Cowslips.

31 Mar, 2009


Sorry Bulbaholic, the place you are referring to is not in Cambridge, which is why you probably can't remember the name of it! It's called Bressingham Steam Museum in Diss, Norfolk! It does have the most fantastic unusual plants and is well worth a visit if anyone is ever over this way!

31 Mar, 2009


Been there! Many years ago - loved it, I'd recommend it to garden/plant lovers and families as well.

31 Mar, 2009


Well considering we visited when our son was a wee boy and he is now 38 I'm not surprised David misplaced it! They do have some fab. primulas as do other alpine type nurseries

31 Mar, 2009


dont forget P. denticulata and P auricula. P denticulata is a family favourite and i have it in mauve, white and magenta. I think its common name is drumstick primula.
Up north Harlow Carr has a primula 'Harlow Carr hybrids' they are boggy lovers and spectacular.
There is a fantastic garden in Norfolk for primulas called Fairhaven? not far from Wroxham/Horning.

31 Mar, 2009


Thanks a lot folks, for your reponses, sorry I confuse the issue by typing snowdtop in one place when I meant primrose. So, Primula is the genus and Primroses, Cowslips etc etc are the species, there's no such plant as a Primula primula.

Thanks again

31 Mar, 2009

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