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In May grow the wildflowers, scattered wherever they please

There is something so enchanting about glimpses of wildflowers growing in hedgerows, meadows, lawns, green spaces, or flowering in the lowly cracks of urban pavements. A whole universe of flowers at your feet, a collaborative landscape where the bumblebees congregate. A floriferous watering hole.


There was a time when the UK was covered in 3 million hectares of wildflower meadows, now sadly only 1% remain. Within these precious environments of colour and vibrancy, in a world so environmentally damaged by us, there is a wonderful sense of hope and wonder to be found in flower-rich pastures.

Coming across a rich, entangled bank of wildflowers and I am instantly overwhelmed by its complexity and endless detail. Language breaks down, speechlessness takes over and I am overcome by the exquisite feeling of being the first person on Earth to enter with awe into wilderness. If you take a walk in these late Spring, early Summer days, direct your gaze downward and all around and see how many species of wildflowers you can spot and identify. Here are some of our favourites...

a country lane in summer with towering verges of pink, red and white hawthorn bushes
The country lane behind my house, a sublime portal ringed by towering hawthorn in red, pink and white.

Hawthorn

Crataegus monogyna Crataegus laevigata

Home to fairies and fodder for caterpillars, dormice and birds. Hawthorn are characterised by a dense, thorny habit reaching heights of up to 15m. They can also grow in the most unexpected places as a small tree with just a single stem. Hawthorns are hermaphrodite, meaning both male and female reproductive parts are contained within each flower. Hawthorn flowers are highly scented, white or occasionally pink with five petals, and grow in flat-topped clusters.





A yellow field buttercup blowing in the wind
The glaze of a buttercup’s inner petal, being like nothing else but the sheen of butter itself.

Buttercup Ranunculus bulbosus One of the most ubiquitous wildflowers and you can often spot them from around May right through to October! The buttercup is widespread and common in meadows and pastures, and is also found in gardens, parks, hedgerows, and woodland edges. Buttercups are common on grazing land because animals avoid eating them as they contain a poisonous sap - a beautiful symbiosis between flower and beast. The meadow buttercup has unmistakeable yellow flowers comprised of five, shiny petals and rounded leaves divided into three to seven lobes.



A country lane thick with cow parsley under the shade of trees with sunshine in the background
Stunning displays of cow parsley, this iconic frothy spray is a roadside stunner and real head turner.

Cow Parsley Anthriscus sylvestris Tall, elegant sprays of white flowers commonly found growing on verges, shaded areas and the edges of woodlands. cow parsley is fast growing and can often seem like it appears rapidly and out of nowhere. It is an important early source of pollen for a wide variety of insects such as bees, moths, butterflies, and hover-flies. The flowers consist of delicate white umbels where clusters of tiny flowers emerge from stalks which come from a common centre. It is important not to confuse cow parsley with the poisonous hemlock which looks similar but sports a stem spotted with purple splodges and a few other key but subtle differences. Given that cow parsley has quite a few poisonous relatives, it is best left alone to the untrained eye!





The beautiful petals of red campion, five little love hearts arranged around a purple-brown calyx.

Red Campion

Silene dioica I love red campion because they provide a sweet and cheerful pink soon after the bluebells have finished flowering - a seasonal flower tag team. They are the favourites of bees, butterflies and hover-flies. The flowers are a distinctive pink-red colour with five petals that look like little love hearts. Red campion is dioecious, meaning the male and female flowers grow on separate plants. Spot them in woodlands, hedgerows, fields, ditches, and roadside verges. Red campion is a really special wildflower to spot as this species is an ancient woodland indicator and may give a clue to the age of the land or wood its found growing. According to folklore, red campion is the guardian of bees’ honey stores and protects fairies from being discovered. Magical!



Water Avens