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Primrose tidying

  • Primrose tidying
  • Primrose tidying
  • Primrose tidying
  • Primrose tidying

It's spring! (well, nearly...) The daffodils are shooting up, the snowdrops are already doing their thing, and what about the Primroses?

Yes, they are now flowering, but in many gardens they are not looking their best because they still have a frill of last year's leaves, which are now very large, very brown, and rather ugly.

So is it time to get out there and rip them all off? Yes! Except that instead of ripping them off, just snip them off, as close to the base of the plant as you can get, with either secateurs or scissors.

Does this seem like a bit of a faff? Well, yes, but the results are well worth it: getting rid of all the ugly old leaves shows off the flowers to their best advantage, against a background of nice fresh green leaves: and often, removing the long old leaves will reveal a small border of bare soil (where the weeds have been suppressed by the dying leaves) which makes the flowers stand out even more clearly.

Also, dead and dying leaves are a sort of running buffet for slugs and snails, not to mention being perfect hiding places from predators - and although all of nature is wonderful (I am rolling my eyes as I say it), there are some aspects of nature which simply don't need feeding or encouraging!

The photos above show two sets of Primrose clumps, before and after: and I hope you are now inspired to go round your garden, snipping and neatening!

Comments (5)

  1. Grower

    Rachel the Gardener

    Hi Sue, I find that small primroses transplant well, soon settle down, and often do flower when still very small. But if they don't, then hey, they'll flower next year!

  2. Grower

    Mandy Bloom

    I love your posts Rachel, I think we should have a 'What would Rachel do?" app! Do you trim the old foxglove and bergenia leaves off now too?
    Also, completely unrelated, what do you do with the dreaded arum italica? I have tried digging them up with a deep trenching spade, but I know there will still be twice as many to dig up this time next year. So hoe, pull off the tops, burn with a flame thrower, dig up and hope for the best? They are a nuisance in literally every garden I work in, but I don't remember them in any of my own gardens over the past 20 years, except the last one, so am sure they're a recent phenomena.... Sorry to digress :-)

  3. Grower

    Rachel the Gardener

    Hi Mandy (waves), aaaw, now I'm blushing! You're very kind! To answer your questions, Foxglove: yes, same principle, cut off anything brown, manky and generally ugly. Bergenia, uuurgh, horrible job and not easy to describe in two sentences (I might be doing a blog post about it soon as I have been asked to tidy up a massive bed of the things - more of that later!) but yes, I basically remove all dead brown leaves and any damaged green ones.

    As for Arum, with unbelievable timing, I've just this minute finished a blog post on that exact subject, so I'd point you in that direction for more info. And, although we don't yet have the "What would Rachel do?" app, you are most welcome to ask me any questions you like, either here (Message Member underneath my name at the top of the page) or on my blog. Just bear in mind that questions will probably be answered here, rather than direct response!

  4. Grower

    Mandy Bloom

    Hey that's great! I didn't know you had a blog - how do you ever find time with gardening and nurserying? Funny I was thinking about asking you just this morning when tackling sporadic arum in very heavy clay soil, so there must be some telepathy! Have you ever tried burning them?
    I will follow your blog once I've remembered what my google password is!!
    Thanks Mandy

  5. Grower

    Rachel the Gardener

    Hi Mandy, well, I don't add posts every day!! I just fit it in when I can.

    Going back to the arum, no, I've never tried burning them, I find that in general, flame guns only shrivel off the top growth, they don't kill the roots at all, and most weeds/unwanted plants just grow back. Furthermore, their eco-footprint is terrible! And (more to the point) they cost a lot of money in new gas cylinders!

    As for hoeing, I'm not a big fan of hoeing at any time (and I will be blogging about this subject soon!) and certainly not on unwanted Arum. It's to do with the way they grow: that thick white stem is constantly pushing up new leaves from the centre, so hoeing off the top simply removes the old leaves, clearing the way for the new ones to grow. Pulling them out removes the whole white stem, so they have to use a lot of energy to re-grow that stem, and often they don't manage it in the same year. Thus, we deplete the stored energy in the tuber.


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