Country: Nature Notes

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The Independent Culture
WILD FLOWERS are exceptionally profuse and brilliant this spring, probably because so much rain fell earlier in the year, and the winter was so mild. Snowdrops have long since come and gone, but bright-yellow celandines - the other traditional harbingers of spring - are now running riot in hedges, and particularly in churchyards.

In places with moist soil, the forest floor is dusted with drifts of delicate, white-petalled wood anemones, which need light, and so bloom before the leaves of the trees come out above them, closing the canopy overhead. Wild garlic is in bud, and already bluebells are coming into flower, three weeks ahead of schedule.

Yet nothing can beat the amazing show of primroses, which blaze from grassy banks along lanes and hedges, making green hollows look as though they are spattered with delicious scrambled egg. In living memory, country people would make good money picking primroses by the thousand, tying them in little bunches and sending them to market in the towns. There is no evidence that such harvesting ever harmed the plants, but nowadays picking is strongly discouraged, and under the Wildlife and Countryside Act of 1981, it is an offence to uproot any wild plant without the landowner's permission.