One of the earliest signs of Spring here in Britain is the flowering of the native primrose (Primula vulgaris). Its flowers range in colour from milk white through clotted cream to buttery yellow but there is also a sweet-potato-pink variation. In a delectable continuation of my comestible metaphors, in his Flora Britannica author Richard Mabey labels this form rhubarb-and-custard.
I found these flowers growing locally in the now-public grounds of an old house, built between 1790 and 1810. Though some areas of the grounds have obviously been cultivated, there are also wilder areas where native flowers grow, and these lilac-flowered primroses are sprinkled in amongst the more common yellow forms, suggesting they are not garden escapees. In Flora Britannica, Mabey goes on to say that the rhubarb-and-custard variety ‘is most frequent in churchyards and on banks close to villages, so there is some doubt about its origins. But it also occurs in much wilder sites, especially in west Wales, and is so constant in its colouration that it is almost certainly a genetically different form.’ Delicious!