Welcome to this week's Nature Reserve Hello!
The Lesser Celandine, Ficaria verna, is such a cheering sight in the woods and on the sunny banks of the Country Park where its bright yellow flowers form gleaming pockets of colour in early spring. The word celandine comes from the Greek chelidon meaning ‘swallow’ because both they and the bird of thatname appear first around the same time and are thought to herald spring. Traditionally the 21st of February was known as Celandine Day, the date when, in 1795, the naturalist Gilbert White first noted them flowering en masse in his Hampshire Village of Selbourne. Over the years there has been little change in this date. The plant is an important nectar source for queen bumblebees and other pollinators as they emerge from hibernation, as well as for early insects
While everyone believes that the daffodil was William Wordsworth’s favourite plant, it was actually the lesser celandine about which he wrote three poems including ‘To the Small Celandine’ which contains this verse:
Ere a leaf is on a bush,
In the time before the thrush
Has a thought about her nest,
Though wilt come with half a call,
Spreading out thy glossy breast
Like a careless Prodigal
Telling tales about the sun
When we’ve little warmth, or none.
In our gardens the lesser celandine is often less welcome because it can spread rapidly, but its season is soon over and soon it will die back and disappear into summer dormancy as it will in the Country Park – until next February.