Here’s the ‘first rose’ of spring...
I SPEND a lot of my time looking up when I am wandering through spring woods, searching for birds and squirrels.
Woodpeckers catch your attention, knocking away on the wood, great tits loudly call out their songs and others are just tweeting and twittering, looking for a mate to hook up with over the coming weeks.
However, spring is also a good time to look downwards, especially for a couple of the wonderful flowers which are beginning to carpet our woodland floors.
Many are a vivid yellow, as they desperately try to attract early insects to their pollen-filled interiors.
My favourite is the primrose. It is just starting to flower, filling clearings, hedgerows, grassy banks and fields.
You may be lucky enough to get some wild primroses in your garden.
You will see the initial rough-textured leaves which look like green tongues as they form rosettes on the ground. Then flowers start to appear in clusters, large and creamy with vivid yellow centres.
The primrose name derives from the Latin for first rose and it is one of the first plants to flower every year in the region.
Much of the coppicing work done by The Wildlife Trust for Lancashire, Manchester and North Merseyside is to remove scrub and small trees, creating clearings that are a perfect habitat for the primrose.
The Duke of Burgundy is a big fan of the primrose. This isn’t some unelected peer of the realm, it is a rare butterfly. Its caterpillars feed on the leaves.
Other butterflies, like the small tortoiseshell and brimstone, love to dive into the nectar of the primrose.
Primroses are actually edible, with the leaves apparently tasting like lettuce. They are a bit too close to the forest floor for my tastes, particularly in an area where a lot of dogs will wander. I’ll just adore them from afar.
The Wildlife Trust for Lancashire, Manchester and North Merseyside 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. The Trust has 27,000 members, and over 1,200 volunteers.
To become a member of the Trust go to the website lancswt.org.uk or call 01772 324129. For more information about Cheshire Wildlife Trust call 01948 820728 or go to cheshirewildlifetrust.org. uk.