One of the many things that we love about the arrival of spring is the fact that woodland floors burst into colour. Throughout winter woodlands can feel quite stark, with bare branches of trees and the woodland floor seemingly bereft of plant life. No wonder then that spring is such a welcome sight as Mother Nature works her magic and starts the cycle of life.
From the ever popular bluebell to the classic primrose and the heavily scented wild garlic, the wonder of woodland flowers never ceases to amaze me. And we all have our favourites. In the Easter Special episode, the BBC Springwatch presenters revealed their own personal favourites.
For Martin Hughes-Games it’s the celandine that takes centre stage. Sometimes known as the spring messenger, it most commonly blooms in woodlands from March until May with bright yellow flowers with glossy petals. It was a favourite of the poet William Wordsworth too, who wrote an ode to the celandine. The flowers also get a mention in the much-loved children’s book, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. When Aslan comes to Narnia and the whole wood passes ‘in a few hours or so from January to May’, the children notice ‘wonderful things happening. Coming suddenly round a corner into a glade of silver birch trees Edmund saw the ground covered in all directions with little yellow flowers – celandines.’
Michaela Strachan’s favourite is shared by much of the nation...the daffodil or narcissus. Long celebrated in art and literature, the daffodil is the national flower of Wales and the symbol of cancer charities in many countries. Few flowers have received more poetic acclaim, with poems by authors including John Gower, Shakespeare, Milton, Wordsworth, Shelley and Keats. Being one of the UK’s most popular cut flowers, they adorn the fronts of petrol stations and supermarket checkouts throughout spring and so are considered by many, including Chris Packham, to be simply too common. In fact Chris has a nickname for them...naffodils.
Chris Packham, has a much rarer wild flower close to his heart...the ghost orchid. The ghost orchid is found in beech, oak, pine and spruce forests on base-rich soils. It is a rare and critically endangered plant and is believed to be extinct throughout much of its former range. The plants only emerge above ground to flower, especially during very wet summers in Western Europe. Probably not something you are likely to come across easily on your woodland ramblings then.
So, with a huge variety to choose from, which is your favourite spring flower? Make sure you get out and about in the woodlands this spring to see them all in their full glory.
17 April 2015