Posts tagged Britain
British Wild Flowers

British wild flowers have long been the heart and soul of our countryside. From the humble cow parsley to the rare chickweed-wintergreen, the appearance and spread of these delights can herald the change in seasons long before cultivated varieties. But why is it so important to conserve and protect our nation's wild flowers?

  • You will help to prevent rare plants from becoming extinct.
  • Insects - and bees in particular - will enjoy the nectar and pollen the flowers offer.
  • In turn, birds will feed on these insects and also the seed heads once autumn arrives.
"None can have a healthy love for flowers unless he loves the wild ones." 

(Forbes Watson)

So we've established that wild flowers are essential to the flora and fauna of the countryside, now the question remains - which flowers should you grow? Here's a round up of my favourites:

CORNFLOWER (Centaurea cyanus)

Originally a common cornfield plant, there are now only 100 ancient cornfield sites known and numbers are dramatically declining. 

DOG ROSE (Rosa canina)

Though its flowering season is short, this hedgerow shrub's simple pink flowers are worth every moment they are in bloom. It is virtually scentless, but the red-orange hips that follow the flowers more than make up for that.

HAREBELL (Campanula rotundifolia)

Similar in appearance to the bluebell, the harebell is a flower of dry, open, windy places from the hills to the sea. Its delicate translucent petals bob slowly in the breeze and the clumps are pretty additions to hillsides and verges. My favourite overall.

HONEYSUCKLE (Lonicera periclymenum)

The heady scent of honeysuckle is evocative of muggy summer evenings and golden hours. Nothing smells quite like it.

SNOWDROP (Galanthus nivalis)

Brought to the country by gardeners in the 16th century, this much loved flower is a welcome sight as the depths of winter draw to a close. It is a sign that life is emerging and signifies the cusp of seasonal change.

Dog-Rose-Creative-Countryside

One of the easiest ways to encourage wild flowers is to leave part of your garden free of cultivation; simply leave a corner or an area of your lawn, avoid mowing the grass and throw a few wild flower seeds into the mix as the weather begins to warm in the spring months. It may take a little time to notice a difference, but believe me it will be worth it once life begins to emerge from your soil.

What's your favourite wildflower?

All photographs courtesy of Bob Gibbons.

Visit: The Peak District

Just after Easter, I met an old friend for a couple of days in the Peak District. It was a flying visit, but the fresh air and scenery were exactly what we both needed. Shoots of spring were emerging everywhere: in cracks of dry stone walls; hidden by the roots of tall trees; and on the grassy verges of footpaths. We started in Hathersage, a small town with streets of stone buildings and a church tower that surveys all from the top of the hill. Climbing further still towards Stannage Edge we discovered North Lees Hall, which was supposedly the inspiration for Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre; a selling point for us as former literature students, and a spot that gave spectacular views from all angles.

After staying nearby and enjoying a meal in our hotel's restaurant, we drove further south to visit Chatsworth House. Having only been once before when I was a lot younger, it was interesting to explore the house and grounds at a leisurely pace, and the heat of the midday sunshine brought life to the places in the garden where winter had resided until only recently. I often think that spring is the best time to visit historic houses such as this; the crowds are smaller and life is just beginning to flourish. We finished the afternoon with cups of tea and cake (with clotted cream no less!) and relished being able to eat alfresco.

The next morning before my drive back, I woke with the birds and escaped the confines of the room to explore our direct surroundings. It was a steep climb out of the valley and the views were hazy with the mists of the morning, but everything hummed with expectancy, waiting impatiently for the day to begin. My mind played dot-to-dot with the snags of sheep's wool caught in the branches. My ears listened attentively for the lowing of cows on the other side of the valley. If there exists a perfect, peaceful way to start the day, this came very close.