Perfume Bottle Bouquet of Gold Lace Primrose

mahogany sunrise primrose in vase small

“Perfume bottle bouquet” of  Gold Lace Primrose.

Could there be a cooler looking flower? I remember when I first saw Gold Lace Primrose (Primula x polyantha ‘Mahogany Sunrise’), I was smitten with the combination of deepest, velvety red with bright gold. I associate these rich, warm colors with late summer blooms, not the typical pastels of spring.

The adorable picotee of gold around each petal makes the individual flowers stand out from others in the umbel, which can include up to a dozen flowers. In my experience, flowers that are this interesting seem to be over-bred and are therefore weak and short lived. When I planted it more than 15 years ago, I never expected that it would be around and thriving after so long.

Contrary to it’s appearance, this is a hardy perennial in my garden (zone 5-8). From one 4″ plant, it is now a full clump around 18″ across. At my place it thrives in bright, open shade with no direct sun and soil that receives regular irrigation in all but the very middle of summer. At the foot of a vigorous vine, it holds its own with the competition. Were it to receive morning sun, I think it would still thrive, but perhaps it would then require regular summer irrigation. Did I mention that it’s evergreen?

mahogany sunrise primroses plant small

15+ year old clump of Gold Lace Primrose thrives in a moist and shady location at the foot of a vine.

It has a lengthy bloom time. As I write this at the end of April, its about 2 weeks past it’s prime flowering (not that it doesn’t still look wonderful). It starts up around the beginning of April, and won’t be finished blooming until mid-May. I note a few holes in the leaves–slugs, no doubt. Luckily, the slimy ones don’t nearly get the best of it like they do hosta and ligularia; likely because the leaves are slightly felty.

Its so darned cheerful, I can’t resist plucking a few for a tiny vase. With its wispy stems, this is a fun and long lived cut flower for a repurposed perfume bottle. Colognes come in such unusual bottles, so I save them for wee bouquets. Since the openings are typically the width of a pencil, only flowers with the thinnest of stems fit in them as a grouping.

The very wispy stems of Gold Lace Primrose work great in diminutive vases, as do fragrant lily-of-the-valley and fine flowering stems of Osmanthus x burkwoodi or O. delavayi. A single flower with thicker stem will often fit. Last week I put one Camassia (Camass) flower stalk in a perfume bottle to admire it on my kitchen windowsill.

If you have a dressing table, a perfume bottle bouquet would be amusing amongst the other scented decanters.  Have fun!


About Colleen Miko

Colleen Miko is a certified professional horticulturist with 20 years experience in landscape design who has designed award winning gardens for the NW Flower & Garden Show as well as HGTV’s “Landscaper’s Challenge”. Colleen is freelance garden writer and speaker.
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