Cowslips for May Day and a wildflower weekend

When I was growing up cowslips were a true rarity; so scarce that they had an almost mythical status. Regarded as secret treasures, they were something to search for.

These days they are more abundant; often seen at this time of year growing along roadsides and up grassy banks; their mythical status retained, not through their scarcity, but due to their long association with May Day and folklore, or the legend that they first sprung from the ground in the place where St Peter dropped his keys to heaven.

Finding them in profusion in the garden here, thriving on our chalky clay and limestone, was one of the joys of moving to the House at Nab End. Self-seeding, they appear in mossy corners and adorn the front lawn.

On a May morning with the early sun filtering through their golden petals and picking out the deep grooves and veins on their leaves, they are a magical sight and, for me, remain a childhood treasure. And while they may be more common now than they were in the 70s and 80s, cowslips, along with many of our other native wildflowers, are still at risk; threatened by an ever increasing loss of suitable habitat in which to flourish.

The conservation charity Plantlife has recognized the importance of road verges as refuges for wildflowers and campaigns to protect them, as well as working to save our magnificent meadows.

Why not get outside and have a wildflower weekend over the Bank Holiday? There are spotter sheets to guide you on the Plantlife website here, and you can take snaps of the flowers you see and share them on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram using #wildflowerwkend

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