For several years, we have been trying to establish cowslips (Primula veris) in the reserve’s fields but with less success than we would like. The problem is timing.

Our fields are hayfields: they are mown by our tenant farmer at least once in the summer. To flourish anywhere other than in the fields’ headlands, spring-flowering species have to bloom, make and disperse their seed all before the farmer’s first cut – and climate change is bringing that first cut forward every year.

Of course, climate change is also bringing forward the cowslips’ flowering period but not quite fast enough for it to avoid losing its seed to the mower.

Cowslips prefer open grassland, preferably grazed grassland, but we can’t provide that. So – we have planted cowslip seed and seedlings in the fields’ verges in areas where there is not too much shade. There are cowslips coming into flower beside the path through Simpsons, at the top of Village Green and the bottom of Kestrel Field. Go and look.

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