One of the first plants of the year to flower are Galanthus, or snowdrops to use their common name. Flowering from January to March, these rather hardy bulbs can grow in harsh weather conditions, with only partial sunlight. As long as they are given moist soil, they will multiply rather quickly in a small space which makes them relatively easy to manage. They can vary in their height, shape, flower size and even colouring but these usually pale flowers are a sign that spring is coming. An alkaloid named Galantamine can be isolated from this plant and is used as pain relief and to treat Alzheimer’s.
Narcissus, or daffodils if you prefer, are a common yellow flower that also grow from a bulb. Flowering sometime between February and early May, these flowers can handle our harsh Scottish weather, and can grow in either sun or partial shade. They are easy to maintain and will spread quickly so the familiar yellow flowers are around for all to see. They are sometimes nicknamed as the “Heralds of Spring” as the bright plant is associated with the beginning of spring and the bright days to come.
Primula vulgaris, better known as primroses, are one of the surest signs that spring is on its way. They flower between March and May, though are usually planted in the autumn. They prefer to grow in the shade but can grow in sunlight if need be. These easy to manage, hardy plants, are ideal for gardens, especially since they are quite small. Oddly enough, while the name of these flowers derives from the Latin “prima rosa” meaning “first rose”, they are not members of the rose family.
Terri Baker – Montrose Basin Visitor Centre Volunteer