Primroses are found throughout Britain, but sadly like many of our native wildflowers are becoming more and more rare. In the wild they grow under hedges, on banks, on railway embankments and at the edges of woodland. Like many of the early Spring woodland flowers they take advantage of the not yet formed canopy of leaves to maximize light exposure, before the leaves take over and bright spots become shady.
The decline of primroses has been an ongoing one as they were very popular in the early days of medicine when their dried roots were used as a remedy for headaches and worms. The whole plant (leaves and flowers) were used for rheumatism, gout and insomnia. The famous herbalist Gerard recommended Primrose Tea as ‘famous for curing the phrensie’ and you can find Primrose in many herbal drinks and remedies today. In the 17th and 18th century Primroses were candied, pickled and made into vinegars and wine, which as you can imagine took gallons of flowers! Can you imagine how abundant they were! It is impossible to contemplate those recipes now, so whilst I have a few little patches in my garden, here is a little recipe for sugared primroses, which look beautiful decorating a cake or a muffin…..
- flowers (you can preserve all sorts of flowers like this)
- 1 egg white
- 1 tablespoon water
- castor sugar
- fine paint brush
Mix the egg white and water in a cup and stir with a fork. Paint each flower with the mixture on both sides and do not use too much! sprinkle each flower lightly with sugar and dry them on a tea towel, store them somewhere in layers as they will be extremely delicate.
Please do not ever take primroses from the wild, far better plant a bunch in your garden and use those.