Dancing daffodils in the spring breeze

© Bob Chapman

The yellow trumpets of daffodils brighten up the dullest spring day as they cluster together on roadsides, roundabouts and in our parks and gardens. But these are often the planted or escaped garden varieties.

The real treat is spotting a wild daffodil in the dappled shade of an ancient woodland, or pushing up through the grasses of a damp meadow. Wild daffodils are smaller and much more delicate than their brash cultivated cousins; they are the forgotten champions of a woodland in spring.  

Once abundant and hand-picked for markets, these wild flowers are now much rarer, having declined during the 19th century as a result of habitat loss. However, they are still one of the most common wildflowers in England and Wales.  

The name 'daffodil' was first recorded in 1538, but evidence suggests that the Ancient Romans cultivated daffodils, believing that the sap they extracted from the flowers had healing properties. Daffodils are the official flower for couples’ 10th wedding anniversary, and they famously inspired William Wordsworth in his 1807 poem, I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud.

"When all at once I saw a crowd, A host of golden daffodils, Along the Lake, beneath the trees, Ten thousand dancing in the breeze." 

They’re also known as the Lent lily, since they often bloom over the Lent period. However, due to our changing climate and milder winters, daffodils have been found blooming earlier and earlier every year, with some emerging as early as Christmas Day! 

Brighten up your spring and look out for small patches of bobbing wild daffodils in woodlands, damp meadows, roadside verges and roundabouts. 

Find out more at www.hiwwt.org.uk  

Nature at home – make a mushroom spore print 

You will need a mature mushroom, scissors, white paper, a glass bowl and hairspray. First of all, cut the stem off of the mushroom so only the cap remains. Next, place the cap on a piece of paper, gill side down, and put the bowl over the top. Leave your mushroom for around two hours to give the spores a chance to fall onto the paper, and when you think it’s ready, remove the bowl and take a look at the paper under the mushroom. You should see an intricate print of your mushroom! Give it one or two coats of hairspray to preserve.