Stephen’s Six Meadow Flower Picks

‘Tis the season where we see meadow flowers starting to sweep across our gardens, woodlands and local parks. Volunteer Stephen has headed out into the Arboretum to discover just some of the meadow flowers appearing at Markshall, Essex. Here’s Stephen’s top six picks for April 2024…

Primrose (Primula vulgaris)

We couldn’t start any other way than by talking about these cheery signs of spring. Primroses are one of the first woodland blooms each year and are an excellent source of nectar for buzzing pollinators. They are an indicator of ancient-woodland. You can find many of these throughout the Arboretum but Stephen’s favourite spot is in Birkett Long Millennium Walk!

Cowslip (Primula veris)

Continuing the primula theme, cowslips are Stephen’s second pick and Markshall isn’t shy of them. These sunshine flowers thrive in meadows, grassland, woodland and verges. Did you know their leaves are used in Spanish cooking for their slightly citrusy flavour. They are aplenty near the recently pollarded White willow.

Common Dog Violet (Viola riviniana)

Stephen’s third pick is the Common Dog Violet. Their beautiful purple colour makes them stand out on the woodland floor. They are small, perennial flowers with dark green heart-shaped leaves. They are a source of food for rare butterflies, including the silver-washed fritillary which have been thriving at Markshall for many years.

Red dead-nettle (Lamium purpureum)

Despite their name, Stephen’s fourth pick do not sting. Red dead-nettles are common and support lots of insects. The red mason bee and bumblebees feed on the nectar and the caterpillars of the garden tiger, white ermine and angle shade moths feed on the leaves.

Ground-ivy (Glechoma hederacea)

Ground-ivy is a member of the dead-nettle family. They thrive in woodlands, hedgerows and damp places. Its violet flowers appear from March until June each year. Did you know that the fragrant leaves were once a popular bittering agent for beer until Hops replaced it!

Wild garlic (Allium ursinum)

Stephen’s final pick is the wild garlic which is starting to appear! In April and May our woodlands become covered with the white, starry flowers and intense smell of wild garlic. This early flower makes the most of the sunlight that makes it to the forest floor, before the tree canopy becomes too dense. What is your favourite wild garlic recipe?

Thank you for reading Stephen’s Six Meadow Flower Picks. Meadow flowers are important for a number of reasons, including supporting insects and pollinators. Make sure you look out for them on your next visit or perhaps plan a visit to Markshall to spot the ones shown here.

2 responses to “Stephen’s Six Meadow Flower Picks”

  1. Faye says:

    Lovely article Stephen. It’s great to be able to put a name to a lot of the wildflowers I spot on my walks every day. Protect the pollinators – look after and enjoy our beautiful wildflowers and countryside.

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