Katie, a passionate conservationist, crafter and writer, who loves to try new things, has volunteered to write a few blog posts for our members to help during this period of isolation. She has to self-isolate for 12 weeks too, so she appreciates what this means.

This one about spring wildflowers.

Spring has well and truly sprung but this year and we are in the interesting position of longing for nature more than ever, whilst having less access to it. To bring a bit of the glory of the season to your home here are some of the most striking spring blooms.

Lesser stitchwort
Lesser stitchwort is a flower which looks more like it should belong in a bouquet than a hedgerow. Blooming first in April it is then a constant presence in our countryside until late summer. Its wonderful white star-like flowers are instantly recognisable, and only confused with greater stitchwort which has flowers between 2-3cm wide compared to the lesser stitchwort's 0.5-1cm.

Cow Parsley
When the cow parsley comes out it seems like the countryside is preparing for a wedding. With its bunches of white flowers and tall stem it quickly fills the road verges in the spring, seeming like the kind of plant you could never confuse with anything else. However cow parlsey is part of the umbellifers, which all have a similar composition. Next to come out will be hogweed and then hemlock, with many other variations in between such as water hemlock and pignut. Some are very easy to tell apart, such as the pignut which is a fraction of the size of the cow parsley, whilst hemlock is so similar that the two can easily be confused. The easiest identification method is to look at the time of year, location of bloom (some umbellifers are very habitat specific) and the leaf shape, which is often very distinctive. If it's blooming in hedgrows in April, with a parsley-like leaf, than you can be fairly certain it will be cow parsley.

Green alkanet

Green alkanet is a very distinctive plant, with its small forget-me-not type flowers, and its large bristly leaves. It can be found crowded together in hedgerows, growing in woodlands and even poking up through tarmac. Introduced to the UK in the 17th century, when it escaped into the wild from people's gardens, it has since made itself well at home. Flowering through most of the year if conditions are right, it is an excellent resource for lots of pollinators, and a great plant to sit and observe if you want to do a bit of bee watching.

Garlic mustard
One of the easiest plants to learn, garlic mustard (also know as jack-by-the-hedge) has large scalloped leaves and a cluster of white flowers on a long stem. However it is the smell of the crushed leaves that gives this plant away, with a strong scent of garlic and mustard. This plant was often used for cooking in the past, flavouring breads and soups.

Red campion
Red campion is something of a poster-child for British wildflowers, with its large bright pink flowers gracing hedgerows, woodlands and meadows from April right through 'till September. Its distinctive flower-shape and colour make it easy to spot, with other campion flowers having a similar shape but different colours, such as the white-flowered white campion. 

Wild ransom
One of the earliest wildflowers to appear, wild ransoms can be found in our woodlands, and occasionally in hedgerows, from February to March. Its large flat leaves appear in great carpets first, diffusing the woods with the smell of garlic. A popular plant for foragers the leaves are great for making pestos, soups and other tasty dishes. Once the large white flowers appear, the woodland floor can look like it is speckled with snow.

Wood sorrel
With a leaf which can somewhat be confused for the common clover, this small delicate flower is found spread across woodland floors. The pale lamp-shape flower, with its pink veins, and the slight downward fold of the leaves, however, do make this easily distinguished from other similar species. Interestingly, the leaves give off the taste of green apples if chewed. 

Marsh marigold
A relative of the buttercup, the marsh marigold grows in damp places such as wet grasslands or woodlands. With its bulky form and large golden flowers it is easy to spot and always a pleasure to see. Its dark, almost waxy leaves have a slightly scalloped edge, unlike the spikier leaves of the meadow and creeping buttercups which you might find nearby. Starting its bloom in April it will often remain in flower for most of the summer.

Cuckoo flower
So named because it starts its flowering period around the time that the cuckoo starts to call, this delicate pink bloom often only remains for spring, with few making it through to early summer. Also know by the name lady's smock it grows in damp meadows, its flowers poking up between the long grasses.

Herb robert
To many herb robert is simply a weed, growing ubiquitously in woodlands, hedgerows, gardens and even car parks. Yet this relative of the geranium has a beautiful small pink flower and a wonderful red tinge to its stem and leaves and provides easy nectar for insects in places which might otherwise be largely barren, such as industrial waste grounds. Flowering through most of the summer into autumn it can also provide welcome sustenance towards a time when less flowers will be present.

So remember even if you are unable to get out and enjoy the spring flowers this year, we are lucky that many of them will continue to grace us with their presence throughout the summer. Even for those that we may miss out on we can be sure that other just as wonderful wildflowers will have appeared in their place by the time we emerge back into nature.
Please note if you intend to forage please obey all relevant laws and make sure you are certain of what you are picking and eating.