My daughter sent me a photo yesterday, saying ‘What are these?’ Delighted, I told her ‘Cowslips, and that I had just seen them on my own walk and had thought of making them my blog feature for today.
Once common, ‘cowslip’ is another of the words that has slipped quietly out of our vocabulary. Here in Burwell we are fortunate. When they built the new doctors’ surgery, Dr Patrick Risdill-Smith planted the front with a wild flower meadow. Peek through the hedge as you pass and you will see it is now full of these nodding, spring countryside flowers. Lovers of chalky soil, you can also find cowslips on the grassy banks of Castle Mound. I’d love to know where else they are.
About twenty years ago my Mum sent me a birthday card of a painting from 1526 of cowslips by Albrecht Durer. My Mum’s comment in the card – aside from my having to wait for my birthday present for when she visited in a week’s time and not to get too excited – was ‘Interesting to see that cowslips stay the same!’
About this time last year I spent an absorbing day at a watercolour painting workshop organised by the Iceni Botanical Artists https://www.icenibotanicalartists.co.uk/. I drew and painted a cowslip. Looking carefully at the leaves, flowers and stem gave me a renewed love and understanding of the plant. As a child I painted three flowers. To this day I have an affinity for those flowers I have with no others. As I looked so closely at the plants, somehow they became part of me too. My results are ‘ordinary’; the life they brought me, as a child and last year as an adult, was breathtaking. We all have a pencil and paper to hand. I encourage you in this time of lockdown to open yourself up to this world by giving it a go, whatever your age.