Prim­roses paint early spring...

Macclesfield Express - - WILDLIFE -

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

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