January's plant of the month is the primula - and no wonder. This is one of our prettiest spring flowers. You can see its delicate pale yellow petals spangling hedgerows and grassy banks from March until May.
The wild primrose, Primula vulgaris, and its close relatives the cowslip (Primula veris) and oxslip (Primula elatior) are all delightfully natural-looking and not difficult to grow. They prefer a damp, shady spot – in the dappled shade of a tree is perfect as long as it's not too dry.
But that's not the end of the story. In your favourite garden centre you'll find a bewildering range of primula hybrids: cheerfully colourful, in every shade from vermilion to pale blue or clear white, they can have single or double flowers. They make easy-going early spring bedding to brighten up the chilliest days, growing in containers, hanging baskets and borders, in most soils and in sun or semi shade.
And then there's the elegant and sophisticated auricula, with varieties showing curious traits like 'farina' – a light dusting of powder on the petals. These are addictive and you'll soon find yourself collecting more: display them in a traditional auricula 'theatre' for real wow factor.