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For centuries the common primrose has spread breathtaking carpets of pale lemon yellow across the globe. It and its close relatives the cowslip and oxlip are flowers of the field, hedgerow and meadow. Abundant, edible and beneficial for many ailments, they have supported civilization's social and cultural foundations. As harbingers of spring, they have captured the attention of gardeners, plant breeders and scientists, while artists and poets have found them essential as both subject-matter and muse. William Shakespeare introduced us to 'the primrose path', a pleasurable but destructive route, in several of his plays, and Charles Darwin spent more than thirty years working with primroses to clarify the origin of species and solve an elegant evolution mystery.
This is the story of how primroses became one of the most important garden flowers, circling the earth, adapting to human civilization and yet holding their own on inaccessible craggy summits where they may never be seen. Bringing together stories, facts and folklore from around the world, this is a delightful guide to this hugely popular flower.