I know it’s just the spring happening again, but year after year it enthralls me.
I walk out onto a coastal montane heath – dry, bare, close-cropped (a recent client commented “looks like a golf course”) in march. Few plants show their best at that time. Then, within weeks, colour arrives in the form of whites among the parched grey-greens. Scurvy grass – not a grass at all – can be seen deep in the thatch of the clifftop sward – it’s there for all to see, but only those who go looking usually do see.
Days later, strolling along the clifftops at Westerwick, I notice cushions of pink – moss campion, a mountain-top specialist if ever there was one, flowering here 200 feet above the Atlantic. Then a frenzy of colour starts to fill every niche in the craggy landscape of sea and rock. Bird’s foot trefoil, sea campion, thrift (or sea pinks as other’s know this lovely plant), and spring squill, one of my favourite wildflowers of spring, come into the year to show that that dry, bare, close-cropped coastal montane heath is anything but dull. Anything but ‘like a golf course’.
Soon milkwort, lousewort (the first pink leguminous flowers are already pushing through as I write), mountain everlasting, bog asphodel, butterwort and sundews will fill those same heathy slopes, before the heathers of summer take the stage, and steal the show.