Here’s the ‘first rose’ of spring...

Macclesfield Express - - WILDLIFE -

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 lanc­ or call 01772 324129. For more in­for­ma­tion about Cheshire Wildlife Trust call 01948 820728 or go to cheshirewil­ uk.


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