Friday, 5 February 2021

Wildflower watch

It’s about this time that I start spotting wildflowers as they begin to appear and – in an anoraky way – making notes in my diary so that I can compare first-sightings over the years.


All wildflowers now appear much earlier than they used to as a result no doubt of global warming. Primroses for instance, which I used to think of as a February flower, now appear before Christmas.

Here are some that I photographed today along the edge of our garden. (I do regret the fence, as it’s not good for wildlife, but it is essential at the moment to stop Ellie squeezing out through the hedge and chasing vehicles, the varmint.)


The flower won’t however come into its massed glory for a couple of months, such as these that I photographed in April 2017 along a nearby path.


I remember as a child going on primrose-picking picnics (try saying that a few times) with a friend and her mother, but I would never pick wildflowers now, not even if there appeared to be lots of them. They need all the help they can get, with habitat loss to my mind a far greater threat than rising temperatures.
As I said to Frog as we walked along the canal two days ago and I looked longingly at a scruffy and forgotten field-corner, ‘I just hope I live long enough to see large parts of the country rewilded.’
Scruffy and forgotten corners are all we have left of real nature - the rest is a green desert – and I can’t begin to count the number of scruffy and forgotten corners where I used to sit and dream that have since disappeared.
Europe is in part to blame because it rewards farmers for the amount of land they cultivate and, although I voted to stay in Europe, I may be changing my mind because the British government has plans to reward farmers for the good they do for the environment instead. God willing, those plans will come to fruition. (They could scrap the HS2 railway as well while they were about it.)

Wild Daffodils

Wild daffodils are a case in point. Back in the 1980s I used to see fields of them but those fields have gone, no doubt ploughed up and ‘improved’. The only ones I see now are these that I planted myself at the entrance to our house, which have been flowering for nearly a week and bringing joy to my heart every time I pass them.

Wild daffodils

They’re not the same as the cultivated daffodils which have ‘escaped’ to live wild, being smaller and paler. They come out earlier too. My wildflower books say March but I made a note in 2005 that they’d come out on 1 February, so even sixteen years ago their season had shifted by a whole month. They are the daffodils that Wordsworth saw and wrote about.


Snowdrops on the other hand have been late this year, perhaps because it’s been a cold winter. I usually see them at Christmas in a small bed outside our back door but my first sighting this year was in the wilds of Mid Devon on 22 January on a freezing and wet day. It was so dark that my camera flashed as I took the picture.


Snowdrops are probably not native, as they weren’t recorded growing wild in this country until the 1770s, but they certainly look at home now, growing in swathes through woods, and here at the bottom of our garden (photographed a few days ago).


I seem to remember at one time that when you were buying snowdrop bulbs you had to be sure they came from a reputable source and hadn’t been lifted from the wild, but I can’t find anything about that now so perhaps it was a different plant. (Incidentally, it’s illegal to dig up any wild plant except on your own land or with the landowner’s permission.)

(Lesser) Celandine

This for me is the real harbinger of spring. Its flowers are like miniature suns, gleaming out of bedraggled hedgerows. One day they’re not there, and the next they’re everywhere. This year that day was Tuesday (2 February), again a month earlier than The Books say.
Lesser celandines

I love their perfect trowel-shaped leaves.

I may continue with this wildflower watch as spring unfolds. I keep looking for my blog’s raison d’ĂȘtre, or USP (unique selling point) as Frog would say, and wildflowers are as good as anything. After all, as I’ve said before (and will say again), no one else in the media seems to care about them. Do please feel free to contribute your own sightings and experiences. I'd like to know about them.


  1. Farmers used to get funding to set aside land via the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) Direct Payments scheme from Europe and when the uk left the EU, the government had to replace the payment to prevent farmers from using the land for crops to replace the lost money. The difference is the EU gave the payments without really monitoring the benefits to nature, the farmers now have to prove they are spending it with nature in mind.
    You might find these blogs interesting :-

    they seem to have gone quite the last year but I suspect it is because of the pandemic :(

    1. Thank you, Kate. I take your point although the scheme did change over the years. Let us hope however that - by whatever means - the environment will end up where it belongs - TOP of the agenda. x

  2. Hi B - what a wonderful idea a wild flower watch! Especially as you have so much data from past years to compare it with. Already I have learnt so much - can't believe I didn't realise there were wild daffodils! I thought of you when I saw my first celandine the other day...trowel shaped leaves - perfect. I have seen two different types of snowdrop in the bank on my walk - the "traditional" slim drop, and another with a wider bell with a pretty green hem. I wonder if one is wild and one is an interloper! Please keep going with it - I love it! Xx

    1. Lovely to hear from you, Trish, and thank you for your encouragement. You make it worth while. xx


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