Hints & Tips
Spring, as has been mentioned on more than one occasion in these very virtual pages, is in the air. And as if the good presenters of Springwatch didn’t have enough to do, keeping a watchful eye on pregnant sheep and making ‘ooh’ and ‘ahh’ noises whenever a new lickle lamb pops it’s woolly head head into the world, they decided this year to run a poll on Britain’s favourite flower.
Good idea. Why not? After all, the assembled hordes of the British Public would never be flippant or suggest anything silly would they? Would they? Well just bear in mind that these are the same people who recently voted in a huge poll to call the new British polar exploration ship ‘Boaty McBoatface’.
As it happened, for once, everyone in Britain stayed solid and sensible and the chosen bloom was decided on. The Bluebell. It makes sense, there is nothing quite like a carpet of bonny bluebells on an April or May morning, gently nodding their sweet little heads as if to say “Yes, pretty aren’t I?”
Personally, I have always loved Spring flowers more than much any others. I have grown them, sniffed them, painted them and given them as gifts on more occasions than I can remember. So my top five would most definitely be… in no particular order…
- The Snowdrop. Like a little white bluebell, small, bright and clean like the Eidelweiss but much more humble and not as Austrian, the snowdrop is the ideal flower to pluck from your garden when you are six and give to your Mother on the first day of Spring, in a small, possibly unwashed, whisky tumbler with a cup of rather cold tea, first thing in the morning, slightly before she really wants to be woken up. Ah. Childhood. Plucking wildflowers is not recommended these days, in fact, is positively frowned upon but my Mother always loved this gesture when I was young and our large garden was always full of snowdrops so there were plenty to spare.
- Primrose ( Primula vulgaris). These I love because they are little stars brightening up any garden or patch of woodland. Yes these little pale yellow chaps are top flowers, bringing light and life and joy to all. I also like them because they make me think of Primrose Hill, where I have had many a happy weekend afternoon picnicking with friends and getting slightly unecessary on bubbly beverages.
- The Daffodil. As Welsh as the hills, they may be but this English girl just loves a daffy-down-dilly. Vibrant as a Notting Hill carnival float, happy as Olivia Coleman’s agent, cheap and available to buy around the clock from garage forecourts and corner shops, and bringing a welcome touch of colour to dismal ring-road roundabouts everywhere, these are the common people of wildflowers, given to many a Mother on Mothering Sunday by children with grubby hands, generous hearts and Daddy’s money. And incidentally. I know several boyfriend type chaps who, in a desperate attempt to get away with A) Forgetting your Birthday 2) Being too long at the pub 3) Both on the same day – think it’s OK to bring me daffodils from the afore-mentioned garage forecourt or urban roundabout.
Let me say for the record . IT ISN”T OK!
- The Anemone. (particularly Anemone apennina) I have a couple of great reasons for loving these flowers. 1) They are mentioned in a Greek legend. God and Goddess Aphrodite and Adonis were, of course, a couple ( which was no doubt very annoying indeed for their less attractive best friends – like being the ugly best mates of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie)
Sadly, while out one day, no doubt looking for people not as good looking at him to point and laugh at, Adonis got himself gored by a bull and subsequently shuffled off his immortal coil in the arms of Aphrodite, who dripped nectar onto his blood and, miraculously, caused the first ever Anemone to bloom from it. No-one ever actually explains why she did this or what made those drops of Adonis’s blood go floral, but grief does funny things to people. 2) The Anemones I am fond of have many, thin petals a bit like a daisy, perfect for ‘he loves me, he loves me not’ moments, although if you spend your time wandering round wilfully pulling the petals off flowers and most of the men you come into contact with are from the gardening world, it’s not surprising the answer is usually ‘he loves me not’.
- The Crocus. White, orange, purple… whatever the colour, spring crocuses always make me happy. Belonging to the Iris family, the name Crocus can be traced back to ancient languages including Arabic ‘kurkum’ meaning saffron. Saffron, of course, comes from Crocuses, is notoriously expensive and is delicious in Indian spiced chicken dishes, and as far as I’m concerned any flower that makes a healthy and happy contribution to my fortnightly Curry and Countdown night is a winner.
So that’s it. My favourite Spring wildflowers. I hope your own blooms are starting to make your life a happier, more colourful place and I think it’s worth remembering that fruit and vegetables are great, but you can’t send a bunch of cabbages as a birthday present. See ya! Holly.