Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Cowbells and blueslips

I have a vivid memory of my mother taking my brother and I to Bredhurst, which was then - and probably still is now - a small village not all that far from our home in Gillingham.  I say not all that far, but that rather supposes one made the journey by car or public transport.  We didn't.  At least, I don't think we did.  Something tells me that my mother walked while my brother rode his tricycle and I used my scooter. Our destination was a wood just beyond the village where we picked masses of primroses and bluebells.  If that sounds horribly incorrect, please remember that this was nearly 65 years ago and in those far off days nobody had any idea that picking wild flowers could result in their extinction, for that is what nearly happened to the primrose in many parts of the country.  I'm pleased to say that the flower, which to so many people speaks of spring, seems to be making a comeback and I see more and more each year.

Another flower of which I see many more these days is the cowslip.  It doesn't seem so very long ago that , as I drove down Ditchling Beacon, I spotted two cowslip plants at the side of the road.  Nowadays, one sees them in masses.  As I walked in Stanmer Park the other day I noticed a bank at the edge of the wood that is simply smothered with cowslips and violets where I can't recall having seen any cowslips before.

I consider that we are lucky round here in that the bluebells in Stanmer Woods are the English variety.  But for how much longer, I wonder?  The Spanish bluebell seems to be spreading farther and farther.  Most of the plants in Withdean Park are of the Spanish variety and they will almost certainly hybridise and eliminate the few remaining English bluebells.

Sussex Wildlife Trust

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