Primroses paint early spring...
I WAS walking around my Uncle David’s garden the other day when I noticed signs of spring everywhere.
Daffodils are starting to show and snowdrops have flowered but I was most impressed by the primroses that are colouring this so-called winter.
If David has them in his garden then I could be sure of finding them in local woods, which I did.
This strange, warm February is creating a spring so early that winter appears to have been shoved aside. Have we moved a bit nearer the Equator?
Actually primroses can flower as early as December in mild years and will stick around, adding dabs of colour to woodland clearings well into May. They are lovely and can be found in grasslands and hedgerows, too.
Of course, as mentioned before, they make a startling early entrance into gardens and offer early food for caterpillars and insects that might be waking up in the unseasonal weather. Sparrows will assault petals, later seeds are eaten by chaffinches.
Despite their early appearance April 19 is known as Primrose Day, because Benjamin Disraeli loved them and they are planted around his statue at Westminster Abbey. I really must pay a visit on my next time in London.
Even without their flowers primroses are easy to spot, being low-growing with rough textured leaves in a rosette. The leaf is described as ‘tongue-like’ but I’m pretty certain your doctor wouldn’t be very impressed if he found you had a green tongue. You would be off to the infectious diseases clinic in minutes.
Flowers are wonderful, being large and creamy with deeper yellow centres, and often appear clustered together. Did you know that most of our early spring flowers are yellow in one way or another because it helps them to attract the first insects of spring? That’s one of my favourite facts, which I only learned a couple of years ago.
Nectar from the flowers is attractive to a range of butterflies, including the small tortoiseshell and brimstone.
I have been told that rubbing oils from the flowers of primrose on doorways keeps bees away, but why anyone would want that is beyond me. A Celtic myth says primroses can mark the gateway to the realm of fairies.
So this means the fairies are out spreading their magic a lot earlier this year and, according to reports, we will be having early springs for at least another five years.
I would like to predict that this early spring may see a bit of a cold snap before we head into April, so don’t put your winter woollies away just yet.
To support the work of the Wildlife Trust for Lancashire, Manchester and North Merseyside, text WILD09 with the amount you want to donate to 70070. The Trust is dedicated to the protection and promotion of the wildlife in Lancashire, seven boroughs of Greater Manchester and four of Merseyside. It manages around 40 nature reserves and 20 Local Nature Reserves, covering acres of woodland, wetland, upland and meadow. To become a member see www.lancswt.org. uk or call 01772 324129.
●● Primroses are seen as an early sign of spring