Cowslip. My favourite wild plants and flowers fickly change all the time, but I’m not sure there are any that cheer me up more than cowslips!
And the fact that they may be less dainty and slightly more chaotic than their more prized cousins and spring favourite, the primrose, just makes me love them even more! Cowslip flowers hang haphazardly in all directions, bright semaphores of grassland, a signal to spring’s warming days. They are more extrovert than their primrose relatives, less happy in the shade, they’re lovers of the limelight.
I love them for the way they blanket banks with sunshine-yellow, and I love their slightly silly name (possible derived from old English cow dung), but most of all for their smile-inducing joy!
Like too many once common wild flowers, changes in agricultural practices have led to huge losses so that now it’s even classified as rare in some places. That’s a real shame because it’s not only a plant that oozes charm, beauty and (I like to think) fun, but it’s also of great value to wildlife, offering up nectar to bumblebees such as this one, and butterflies like the Brimstone. Cowslips are also a food plant for the magnificent Duke of Burgundy butterfly.
It’s not a typically common garden plant, and it mystifies me why this should be, but I always thoroughly recommend it to anyone wanting to attract more pollinators to their garden.
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