Hope springs eternal

Now more than any time in recent memory there is a real focus on the positive benefits of getting outside and connecting with nature. Spring is arguably the best time, the world is waking up from its winter slumber and there’s plenty of treasures to find.

We urge everyone to stay safe, observe the social contract and be responsible but make the most of getting out. Go by yourself for some meditative peace or take the family. However you choose it is the perfect antidote to our collective predicament and will undoubtedly help us through.

At the Buck and Birch we intend to do just that whilst working on ways that we can help. We will also use this time to reflect and tell more of our story so far.

Starting us off is Co-founder Rupert Waites, sharing his thoughts on a very spring time plant…

THE PRIMROSE

This week has been a long year. It seems hardly any time ago that we were in the office thinking we should get out more. To try and get to the heart of why we do what we do and how we ended up doing what we are doing, and run a business, and raise a family, and build an empire and plant a forest and…well…. this all happened.

There isn't much to be said really. Not yet. It is still a fairly seismic shock to most of us and the secondary tremors of the hourly changing news cycle are unsteadying us still. Now is a time for family and helping and keeping calm and trying to find the silver linings in all of this. For us, the pause is an opportunity to take stock and to reflect. In the absence of endless meetings and form filling it is an opportunity to go out revisit the great green interface, our source , to see what it has to offer us by way of inspiration and wisdom. It also gives us a chance to unravel and to share some of our thoughts and inspirations and from our places of isolation, to tell some of our story. To connect.

For me, all this began with the first flower. Where else?

The ‘Prima Rosa’, Primula vulgaris or, as we all know it ‘Primrose’, is a plant deeply ingrained in our collective folklore, is common enough in hedgerows and woodlands at this time of year and if I was pushed to pick just one flower, It’d probably be my all time favourite . It makes excellent country wine, is lovely in salads and is at home in undisturbed ground on grass or in deciduous woods.

In folklore it's said that hanging bunches outside the door will invite the fairies into your home and that the 5 petals represent, birth, initiation, consummation, repose and death. A six-petalled Primrose is said to bring luck in love and marriage. The flowers and young leaves are edible, and the roots and leaves have been used by herbalists throughout the ages to treat skin complaints, paralysis and gout.

My own love for this little beauty started when I was a child growing up in the West coast of Scotland where we would pick these on the embankments of the West Highland rail line for my parents to make the famous tipple. I remember my mother crystallising them to adorn her second wedding cake and her father teaching me to plant them in the garden, starting my own lifelong love of plant growing and wonder.

I adore its simple, elegant charm and marvel at how the pin at the centre of some blossoms can seem to glow from within. It reminds me of John Muir's words that, “When we contemplate the whole globe as one great dewdrop, striped and dotted with continents and islands, flying through space with other stars all singing and shining together as one, the whole universe appears as an infinite storm of beauty.”

Their apparent fragility belies a demure resilience, enough to face wind and rain and push up, quietly defiant through any late snow. They signal to me more than any daffodil that spring always follows winter if you hold on, and that beauty and hope is eternal.

After what can feel like a long and dark winter ,its ephemeral yellow flowers will emerge displaying to the early awakening bees and butterflies and shining bright enough to attract moths into the evening . I love to join the feast and accept their invitation to the spring banquet. Snacking on the long stemmed blossoms, and taking a moment to enjoy their sweet ,fennel flavoured, delicate decadence , always with a side of bird song and warm sun on my face. It’s an act of personal tradition that links the past with the absolute here and now.

There are concerns that picking them is illegal or that they are somehow rare but they are not protected or classified as anything less than stable. Of course, like any wild flower, you should not uproot them and in the case of making wine, which will require a lot of blossoms, only do so if those blossoms are really plentiful. Ten years ago when I first went looking for them again, I couldn't find any. I took to sowing seeds and in time divided up my stock to plant them here and there meaning that in time I will have put more back than I have ever taken. But use common sense and a bit of savvy. They try to get their business done before the woodland canopy fills up with new leaves and will thrive in the garden or allotment too.

So go, seek them out, and if you cant find any, you will almost certainly find a host of other incredible things. Consider maybe buying some from the garden centre. Plant them at home and nurture them. Divide the clumps in late winter and send them out to friends and forests. It is through connecting like this with plants that we can get real insight to the beauty of our complex surroundings that give us so much. It also offers us a way to give a little back too.

RUPERT WAITES

Primrose flower

Recipe idea

Primroses in the forest

  • One forest with primroses
  • Some singing birds
  • A bit of sun
  • An otherwise quiet moment

Pluck a few blossoms and marvel at their beauty a while. Then close your eyes, put your worries to one side and taste them. Enjoy this moment.- it’s what living is for.