If I had to choose my favourite month, it would be May. Although I enjoy the changing of the seasons in general, there is something unbeatable about late Spring and the sudden feeling of the world come back to life.
The world come back to life: young Beech leaves (Fagus sylvatica) with a pocket of bluebells (Hyacinthoides non-scripta) in the woodland at Uppark.
Although the garden is beginning to flourish, the thing that really grabs my attention in May is the profusion of wildflowers in the woodlands, hedgerows and meadows. Combined with the fresh green glow of young foliage, these wildflowers steal the show. I recently went around the woodland walk at Uppark to see what caught my eye.
Bluebells (Hyacinthoides non-scripta)
Last spring I saw a few bluebells in the woods at Uppark, this year there are definitely more. While I wouldn’t yet call it a carpet of bluebells, the number of plants is increasing. This process is helped by woodland thinning to allow more light to reach the woodland floor, and the springtime planting of bulbs ‘in the green’ which will now establish for next year.
Bluebells (Hyacinthoides non-scripta) enjoying some extra light after woodland thinning work.
Primroses (Primula vulgaris)
These rugged beauties started to flower in February and are still going strong. The picture above was taken on the the lower section of the woodland walk at Uppark where the primroses nestle in the banks.
Cowslips (Primula veris)
The primrose’s leggier cousin, the cowslip keeps the Primula banner flying into late spring. The number of cowslips at Uppark seems to be increasing. Like the increase in bluebells, this may be due to woodland thinning and increased light levels. Although the picture above was taken on the lower woodland walk, there are also cowslips in the south Meadow and in the long grass just south of the café.
Wild Garlic (Allium urisium)
Working in the woods last week, we were surrounded by the scent of wild garlic. Although the smell is fairly pungent, I love it, as it brings back lots of childhood memories. It seemed to have a similar effect on Tristan, although he knew it by a different name and called it Ramsoms. This got me curious and I did some research to find out if there were any other names for Allium urisium, here is the list:
- Bear’s Garlic
- Hog’s Garlic
- Wild Garlic
- Wood Garlic
- Wild Leek
I suspect that this list is not exhaustive, as many wildflowers have numerous common names, their use varying around the country.
Dog’s Mercury (Mercurialis perennis)
Although probably not known for its flowers (which are fairly small), from February onwards Dog’s Mercury begins to cover the woodland floor. Although it is a plant which can spread too vigorously and smoother more delicate plants, I still think it deserves a mention. Dog’s Mercury is part of the flora of our ancient woodlands and makes a vibrant green backdrop to it’s more colourful neighbours in late spring. However, I have to confess, I’m a bit more brutal towards this wild plant when it finds its way into the garden.
Red Campion (Silene dioica)
There is only a small scattering of this lovely rose pink campion at Uppark, but its relative rareness here makes it stand out all the more. Hopefully work coppicing and clearing along the lower section of the woodland walk (where the photograph above was taken) will increase the spread of this dainty but colourful plant.
Bugle (Ajuga reptans)
I have to own up, this is a new wildflower for me although I know it’s garden cousin (Ajuga reptans atropurpurea) quite well. I spotted a little group on the lower section of the woodland walk and had to take a picture and look it up. Apparently its a great source of nectar for flying insects and is brilliant for encouraging bees and butterflies into an area. Its really good to see it at the side of the wide ride at the bottom of the woodland, as this is an area we hope to manage to encourage more wildlife in the future.
Featured image taken by Andy Lewis, all other photos taken by Jenny Swatton.
Den building at Uppark
Join the garden team and get stuck into some den building in the woodland – one of the #50things activities
30 May 11-3pm in Uppark woodland
- Free event, normal admission applies.
- Clothing and foot wear suitable for rough terrain should be worn.
- Not suitable ground for buggies.