They make one of the most cheerful sights of spring, but the hardy little wild primrose can actually make an appearance much earlier in the year.

In fact this year, we had sightings of them from early February, thanks to a relatively mild winter.

So they were certainly living up to their name – Prima Rosa, which means ‘first rose’.

Unlike some of the more endangered UK wildflowers, the primrose is common and widespread across Britain and Ireland and according to the Woodland Trust, they can actually bloom as early as late December and flower right through until May.  

One famous fan of the primrose was Queen Victoria, who sent a wreath of primroses to the funeral of her much-loved Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli, following his death on April 19, 1881.

The primrose was also his favourite flower, and Queen Victoria would often send him bunches of them from Windsor as well as from her Isle of Wight garden at Osborne House.

After his death, April 19 was declared as a national Primrose Day, when patriotic British people would pay tribute to the statesman by wearing primroses in their lapel.  Disraeli’s bronze statue in Parliament Square would also be decorated with primroses every year on the anniversary of his death, in a tradition that continued for many years.

Not only does the primrose have its own day, it also has its own county! In 2002, the British conservation charity Plantlife led a nationwide campaign to pick and dedicate a native wildflower to each county, and the people of Devon voted for the primrose.