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Graham Rice's New Plants Blog

Graham Rice Garden writer and plantsman Northamptonshire and Pennsylvania

Editor-in-Chief of the RHS Encyclopedia of Perennials; writer for a wide range of newspapers and magazines including The Garden and The Plantsman; member of the RHS Herbaceous Plant Committee and Floral Trials Committee; author of many books on plants and gardens.

  • Date Joined: 18 Oct 2006

Irish primroses: New from Cotswold Garden Flowers

Posted by Graham Rice on 13 Mar 2012 at 01:01 PM

Two new Irish primroses: Innisfree (left) and Drumcliffe (right). Images ©Fitzgerald Nurseries
  • Exciting new series of Irish primroses
  • Dark purple bronze foliage
  • Prolific flowers in contrast or harmony
  • More colours coming


Primroses from Ireland have always captured the imagination of gardeners. Just think of ‘Garryade Guinevere’ introduced from Co. Leitrim in the 1930s – one of the best, and best known, of all hardy primroses. Now a new series of Irish primroses is starting to appear.

Kennedy’s Irish Primroses are the result of over thirty five years of careful selection by Joe Kennedy, originally in Co. Carlow in the south, and now in C. Antrim in the north. The first was released in Ireland last year to coincide with the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy’s visit to Ireland, and now they’re available in Britain. In fact the plants are being propagated from a nursery just a short step from the Kennedy family’s original homestead in Co. Wexford.

The plants have three things in common. The foliage of all the Kennedy’s Irish Primroses is an unusually dark purple bronze colour. The plants are prolific too, with flowers in gentle harmony or bold contrast to the foliage. And they’re tough, they’ve proved hardy in parts of the world far colder than Britain.

The first two introductions are Drumcliff (K74’) and Innisfree (‘K72’). Drumcliff (above right, click to enlarge) has very pale lilac tinted white flowers while Innisfree (above left, click to enlarge) is deep and vivid red, and features unusually dark and glossy leaves. Both have occasionally been listed for a brief time in recent months, now they again available.

More varieties are on the way, with yellow, white, peach and pink flowers, and another thirty six are being trialed and tested for introduction in the future.

Primula Drumcliff (K74’) is available from Cotswold Garden Flowers.

Primula Innisfree (‘K72’) is available from Cotswold Garden Flowers.

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