52 Wild Things to Do: Discover the joys of wildflowering

BBC Radio 4 presenter Paul Evans discovers the joys of wildflowers as part of our seasonal guide to wild activities. 

52 Things to Do in Spring logo

Lost in an intoxicating haze of bluebells in woods spangled with anemones, or wandering lanes whose verges are gold-plated in dandelions or foaming with a bow-wave of cow parsley, the journey through spring into summer is giddy with wildflowers.

Common or scarce, blowsy or coy, wildflowers speak to us about the ecological quality of the world we live in through a poetry of names that runs deep in our culture: Jack-by-the-hedge, eyebright, forget-me-not, cuckoo pint, traveller’s joy, long purples, mountain pansy, cowslip, marsh marigold, violet helleborine.

Wildflowering is not about flattening flowers in presses or ticking off lists; it’s about living moments of beauty and fascination. Who could forget the enchantments of fritillaries in the water meadows at Cricklade in Wiltshire or Iffley in Oxfordshire?

Or gorgeous greater butterfly orchids at Caeau Tan y Bwlch on the Llyˆn Peninsula in North Wales? Or carpets of harebells – the bluebells of Scotland – in the machair on Colonsay or the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides?

But you don’t have to travel far to find floral gems: poppies in the barley, field roses in the hedge, yellow flag iris in the pond – we’re surrounded by wonderful flowers. All you need for wildflowering is curiosity, a sense of adventure and maybe a magnifying glass or wildflower guide. So go for a wander once a month and savour the magic of Britain in bloom.


Revisit a field, hedge or glade several times this spring so you can see how the mix of species in flower changes.

Try to absorb the poetry of wildflowers – their common names and local variants – so that it becomes part of the way you ‘read’ the world around you.

Try to describe a wildflower that catches your eye. Does it have a scent? What kind of setting is it in? Are there any insects on it?


Click here to listen to Paul Evans BBC Radio 4 spring blog


Click here to read the rest of our 52 Things To Do.

We use cookies to improve your experience of our website. Cookies perform functions like recognising you each time you visit and delivering advertising messages that are relevant to you. Read more here