After few days of winter moods in Bristol (and about one day of snow this winter), I spent my morning visiting the local allotment plots to see the last available one. Back in Oxfordshire, I really enjoyed the allotment project – it was my happy place. Working in social media can sometimes get really busy and stressful so escaping from a place of nature, which was a just ten-minute walk from us, was my favourite lunch-time activity. We had to leave our Wantage Allotment no.108 in the capable hands of our friend and apply for a new one, here in Bristol. And lucky us – we just got one today.
So as my primroses start to re-emerge from under the melting snow, I thought I’d write up a quick list of my favourite spring flowers. Below my personal favourites then- the spring flowers you can find both in Poland and in the UK:
- Snowdrops – snowdrops were known already in the fourth century BC by Greeks and later in England in 1597 called Viola alba (“white violet”) which can be a bit confusing at first but if you think of the actual structure of the flower, it does make sense.
- Daffodils – are brilliant in the UK because they tend to grow everywhere and what I love about them is those long stretches of green and yellow on the side of the road
- Violets or violas – with over 600 species they range from those wild violet tiny plants that appear in the grass in a sprint to a wide range of larger plants of various colours grown pretty much most of the year (even in winter in the UK). Back in Poland, when I was a little girl, I used to run to my patch of violas and wait for the first one, which was my secret milestone, the sign of spring. Violets are used for cake decoration – and while we’re at it: if you are ever in the centre of Bristol, pop into the St. Nicolas Market and visit ahhtots (just now awarded the Bristol Food Award for their amazing cakes). You might spot a few violets on their cakes!
- Primroses – their Polish name “pierwiosnek” means pretty much “pre-spring flower” and I find that people often times ignore them. But if you look closely they glow in the sunshine like little treasures of gold. I also just learned this from its Wikipedia entry: “Both flowers and leaves are edible, the flavour ranging between mild lettuce and more bitter salad greens. The leaves can also be used for tea, and the young flowers can be made into primrose wine.” Pretty cool!
- Crocuses – this one is from the iris family and its autumn cousin Crocus sativus gives birth to a special cooking ingredient: saffron. You can actually grow both in the UK.
- Tulips – oh, tulips…how can we even summarise their importance? Here, in the UK, they come in some stunning ranges for gardening though I am sure our friends in the Netherlands would smile at this. They mean a lot to me for a personal reason: my first digital photo was of a bunch of tulips in my parent’s garden. But to understand their importance it’s worth reading Anna Pavord’s book about their history. It’s enough if I say this: there was a time in our European history when a bulb of a tulip was worth as much as a house. Can you imagine that?
- Lilly of the valley – most magical to me as it reminds me of ancient woods of Poland and I still struggle with growing it well in my English garden. It’s associated with innocence, sweetness (due to its lovely scent, maybe?) and the month of May.
I hope you like this list and I hope you have your spring favourites – I only listed those that are common to both countries but obviously there are also some unique ones just here, in the UK. But that might be a topic for another post;)