Primula veris Cabrillo

posted in: Gardening | 18

Have you ever considered growing Primula veris Cabrillo? Yellow and gold dominates my garden at this time of year while neglect often rules it. Truth be told I’d rather be sitting in the spring garden with the camera instead of weeding. Though I must admit that a little bit of sunshine and heat goes a long way. It can even entice this lady outdoors without the camera and get on with a few gardening jobs.


Cowslip Primula veris Cabrillo yellow
Cowslip Primula veris Cabrillo yellow

I can now tick off the power washing on the patio and paths around the back garden from the ‘to do’ list. The garden furniture has emerged from the garage with I hasten to add a new fresh coat of paint.  While one of the compost bins was emptied of it’s not so crumbly and not so odourless compost … but none the less that precious black gold  got forked into one corner of the garden.

Prunus incisa 'Kojo-no-mai' cherry tree pruned using the La taille en transparence technique
Prunus incisa Kojo-no-mai cherry tree pruned using the La taille de transparence technique
the little splashes of yellow from the daffodils , primroses and cowslips brighten up a dull and wet March day.
the little splashes of yellow from the daffodils , primroses and cowslips brighten up a dull and wet March day.

I felt very accomplished … though very sore and stiff by the evening.  A tickly cough developed overnight – I blamed it on cherry tree pollen and allergies but I think it was the paint fumes from painting in the garage with just 1 door open!  The loan of someone else’s inhaler sorted that thankfully in 1 puff.

Primula veris Cabrillo

Cowslip Primula veris Cabrillo yellow
nodding flowers

The cowslips are doing well here in the garden at the moment.  The native cowslip Primula veris has never lasted more than a couple of years in the garden. However a much newer commercial cultivar Primula veris Cabrillo has thrived over the past few years. Furthermore it is starting to naturalize.

Primula veris Cabrillo growing next to hellebores, heuchera, oregano and cyclamen
cowslips growing next to hellebores, heuchera, oregano and cyclamen

This clump grows in a sunny south westerly position. While there’s a large ceramic pot nearby which gives the plants some shade during the summer.  The foliage is compact and the nodding clusters of fragrant flowers are a deep yellow with orange markings. The common cowslip has a much paler yellow colour.  It’s extremely hardy – H5 here in the UK (USDA Zones 3,4,5,6,7 and 8) and it’s also deer and rabbit resistant.

Cowslip Primula veris 'Cabrillo' yellow
Spring flowering Cowslip Primula veris Cabrillo yellow

Cowslip flowers are a good source of nectar for the Queen bumble bees that are now active in the garden. But as yet I’ve not seen any activity around these flowers. The bees seem to prefer the Cherry tree blossom and spending time flying low in a zig zag formation looking for a suitable nesting site.  The flowers last for weeks and weeks and last year I still had cowslips in flower in the first week of May. Hopefully over the next month I’ll be able to observe if this ‘Cabrillo’ variety is as attractive to the pollinators as the common Primula veris.

Alas the sunny warm weather hasn’t lasted long. I just hope the dull and cold weekend we’ve just had doesn’t dampen my enthusiasm to get on with my ‘to do’ list!

Follow Rosie Nixon:

Photography Tutor and Gardener

Rosie is a garden photographer, writer and nature lover. She enjoys soaking up nature and is easily distracted from doing the weeding by anything that flutters, flies, buzzes, creeps or crawls! She enjoys sharing the beauty of creation through her photography. Rosie has been featured on TV on BBC2's The Beechgrove Garden and she uses the outdoors as her natural light studio. Her work can be seen at one of Scotland's only photography galleries - Close Gallery, 4b Howe Street, Edinburgh. If you'd like to receive the latest leavesnbloom blog posts by email click here.

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18 Responses

    • Rosie Nixon

      thank you so much Mark and Gaz. These were just quick snapshots from yesterday as it was too cold and windy to be outdoors for any length of time 🙂

  1. Gardening in a Sandbox

    I love the garden in spring with all the newly blooming blooms and fresh green foliage. I did have primula in the shade bed at the front of the house but that garden was torn up last year for a new walkway. I will be adding new additions when the snow melts. I enjoyed the tour of your garden. Valerie

  2. Angie

    I planted some Cowslips for the first time last year – they are just starting to flower now. I'm interested in your comment re them not lasting very long. I must keep an eye on how they perform here. They've certainly bulked up a bit since last year.
    It's a very golden spring up there Rosie – as always it's a delight to see your garden and pictures 🙂

    • Rosie Nixon

      Mine is a difficult garden to grow things in Angie at the best of times but twice I've had problems with cowslips in different areas – these Cabrillo ones have been the best so far.

  3. rusty duck

    The cowslip is beautiful, I especially like that last shot. It was gorgeous down here this weekend. Our garden chairs came out too, we ate out for lunch yesterday. And now it's all gone to pot!

    • Rosie Nixon

      Oh that would have been a great weekend – you wouldn't have wanted to venture outdoors this past weekend up here 🙂

  4. Millymollymandy

    Your garden is so colourful – certainly a garden for all seasons! I have cowslips but have no idea of variety as they came from a neighbour. I'm glad to see they have self seeded but I meant to lift some and move them to other places but now that they are flowering I am not sure when is the right time to do this. Thanks for the tour and it is always a pleasure to see your delightful photos. 🙂

    • Rosie Nixon

      Hi Mandy and thanks for the visit. Considering it's so much warmer in France where you are if you moved them after they finished flowering you'd have to remember to keep an eye on the watering in case they dried out too much. It's easier for me to move things most months as we rarely get really hot weather here.

  5. A Garden of Threads

    Hi Rosie, Wow your garden looks fabulous, no I cannot grow cowslip, my soil is too well drained. I'm on sand 🙂 I still have snow in the front garden and ice lakes in the back. It will be several weeks before my garden shows signs of spring. Have a wonderful week, Jen

  6. Melanie J Watts

    I too have Primula veris, it grows well in zone 2 and 3. I've taken bits of the mother plant with me every time I move, it soon grows into an enormous clump that I divide into smaller pieces to give away. Yellow is my favourite spring colour.

    • Rosie Nixon

      I'm sure you're always so glad when the snow finally melts around your garden. I think we all have a few plants that we have to have no matter where we move 🙂 Thanks Melanie

  7. Alistair

    We have inherited quite a number of these Cowslips Rosie. They are adding yet another shade of yellow to a garden void of little else at present. Strangely enough these ones, identical in habit to yours, have lemon coloured blooms, I wonder if this is yet another form.

    • Rosie Nixon

      Hi Alistair I have the paler yellow form too and the orange eye just isn't as prominent. I bought a few weeks ago labelled as the native cowslip Primula veris. I suppose with all primulas they inter breed so much that their proteges can be so similar.

  8. myaberdeengarden

    Your garden looks lovely with all the spring flowers. My garden is all yellow too, but a lot of purple too with primula wanda, primula denticula and aubretia and fritillaria just out. I don't have any cowslips yet, but have several areas where they would look good, so will certainly be getting some.

  9. Mark Shirley

    Just wonderful Rosie …those tulips, the starry eyes and everything else simply gorgeous. I am very fond of primroses the visit with Joe Kennedy was a special treat.