Column: A flash of pale yellow as Monty’s favourite flower shows through

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The primrose is Monty Don’s favourite flower, because, he says, it perfectly celebrates the coming of spring.

So theoretically, primroses shouldn’t be flowering this side of Christmas….except that some of mine are.

In fact, they have been flowering for at least two months and look like they plan to go on doing so right over Christmas. I am not quite sure why; maybe the conditions are so ideal where they are in the garden that they have decided to flower early in gratitude.

They like shade and wet soil and their position in the garden, in soil that is very often damp, in the shade of an evergreen hedge, suits them perfectly. They flowered in Autumn last year too – and then they flowered again in spring-time proper. Last year I divided up the clumps once they had finished flowering and replanted the divided plants nearby, so I am hoping for an even better display this spring.

Primroses are delicate, un-showy plants and whilst they look good in a garden, it is always better to encounter them in the wild where they like woodland clearings, banks and open grassland preferring damp, clayey soils.

Individual plants can be easy to miss, with the subtle pale yellow flowers being close to the ground, but they look striking when they have found a location they love and have multiplied so that an entire bank or roadside is covered with them.

I have relatives who live in a town in Devon and if I happen to visit in spring, I always make sure I take a walk along the footpath near the railway where a steep bank rises on one side which is covered in primroses. I have never seen so many anywhere else. Fittingly, the primrose is the county flower of Devon.