Wildflowers of Cornwall

Clockwise from top left: herb robert (Geranium robertianum); hart’s tongue fern (Asplenium scolopendrium); lesser celandine (Ranunculus ficaria); Alexanders / wild celery (Smyrnium olusatrum); common gorse (Ulex europaeus); blackthorn / sloe (Prunus spinosa); red campion (Silene dioica); dog violet (Viola riviniana); three-cornered leek (Allium triquetum), primrose (Primula vulgaris); common scurvygrass (Cochlearia officinalis); bluebell (Hyacinthoides non-scripta); dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) and field chickweed (Cerastium arvense).

Gorse, Ulex europaeus, Talland Bay, Cornwall, April 2015

This week me and Him Indoors are enjoying a break in North Cornwall with friends Rachel, Simon, Scarlett, Jack and an adorable Cockapoo puppy named Barney. Although spring has been as slow to get going here as it has up country, the hedgerows are already thick with wild flowers. The cliffs around our holiday cottage in Talland Bay are frosted with blackthorn (below) and gilded with honey-scented gorse (above). The white blackthorn blossom is so impossibly profuse that it’s almost indistinguishable from the foam cresting the waves in the rocky cove below. This year’s crop of sloes will be bountiful.

Blackthorn blossom, Talland Bay, Cornwall, April 2015

In the lanes that lead toward the fishing village of Polperro, the high Cornish hedges are festooned with garlicky three-cornered leek and perfumed posies of dog violet and primrose. The primroses are so abundant in places that it appears as if the landscape has been spattered with acid yellow paint.

Primula vulgaris (Primrose), Talland Bay, April 2015

Assisted by my 12 year old protégé Scarlett, I collected flowers from over 20 wild species to study and photograph at home after tea. Many were natives, but some, like lampranthus and periwinkle, were exotics that had escaped from gardens to join the locals.

Allium triquetum, three-cornered leek, April 2015

I wonder if it’s any coincidence that the flowers gracing our hedgerows in April are the same colours as those that we choose to adorn our gardens – white, yellow, blue and candy pink. Together they scream spring, rescued from the brink of gaudiness by a vast, saturated canvas of green. In a few weeks the grasses and ferns will have grown so tall that only the red campions, cowparsley and foxgloves will hold their heads above the rising tide of foliage.

Dog violet, Viola riviniana, Talland Bay, April 2015

I am off now to pick wild garlic (Allium ursinum) and wild celery (Smyrnium olusatrum) for our dinner. Lightly steamed, these foraged herbs will accompany a hearty meal of sausages and mash. Wild Cornwall doesn’t just look good, it tastes pretty special too.

Cornish Wild Flowers, April 2015

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7 thoughts on “Wildflowers of Cornwall

  1. Thanks so much for your blog, I do so enjoy it. Ahhh… the joys of spring, and a simple posie to gladden the heart. Autumn is starting to bite down here in Hawkes Bay, New Zealand but although they are shivering the dahlias are still putting on a great show and the daylilies are flowering again.
    Have a wonderful holiday.
    Meredith

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    1. What a wonderful place to be! I am so pleased you enjoy the blog and that your flowers are persevering as the nights get cooler. We have been blessed with almost 2 weeks of warm spring weather (no rain) so am very happy with my choice of holiday dates. Dan

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  2. I’ve never heard of Gorse so I learned something new and for that I thank you. The beautiful second photo remind me of a lilac bloom. I hope Scarlett appreciates she’s learning from an expert. It’s nice that you have Scarlett and Martha to carry on the family/friend gardening tradition. 🙂

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    1. Gorse is a prevalent shrub (along with blackthorn) along the Cornish coast, normally paired with two or three different species of heather. It’s a particularly thorny fella, so not a plant you want to meddle with. The flowers smell of honey and vanilla, so it does have a gentler side 🙂

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  3. I’ve also wondered about the progression of Nature’s floral coloration through Spring and into Summer and Autumn . . . wondered if perhaps it might relate to the needs of certain insects and the timing of their life cycles . . . no evidence or answers, just musings . . . Life is such a web of interwoven mystery.

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