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Spring in England: Spring Flowers

Updated on September 13, 2012

The English countryside's wild flowers epitomise spring for me and with spring firmly on the way in, it seemed an apt moment to share the spring wild flowers of Burnley, which up to now I have been enjoying alone. Whether it is sunny or one of Lancashire's well known damp rainy days, it's worth getting out there to feast your eyes on the wildflowers that spring brings.

Whilst I think Lancashire has an especially good display of spring flowers, I am a little biased from living here. So where-ever you live in England or where-ever you are planning to visit here whilst you stay on holiday, take an hour out of your week to get out in the countryside and look for some of these spring flowers.

I wouldn't want to be without Collin's wild flower guide

Complete British Wild Flowers (Collins Complete Photo Guides)
Complete British Wild Flowers (Collins Complete Photo Guides)

Drink in the photos of the UK's beautiful wild flowers


Don't feel you have to wait for spring to enjoy England's wild flowers. There are plenty flowering at other times of the year. You might also fancy taking a look at some fungi whilst you're out and about in the countryside. You never know when you're going to see something beautiful or completely intriguing out on a walk, so keep your eye's peeled for unusual sights too.

Cowslip | Source
Cowslip | Source

Cowslip - Primula veris

Cowslips are a really good egg yellow verging on orange and are one of the cheeriest spring flowers with their multitude of flower heads. Note the orange marks inside the flower.

I used to wonder why they were called cowslips because I didn't think they looked like cow's lips at all. However the name is derived from cow's slop i.e. manure or cow pats - not quite so pretty! This is because they can often be found growing around cowpats in meadows.

This specimen is a slight cheat because it has been actively planted in Barrowford Park about 5 miles from Burnley, so isn't strictly wild. It is a joy to see, none the less.

They are also growing properly wild in Clifton Heights Wood, Burnley and you can see plenty if you take the track from the bottom of Ightenhill Park Lance down to the River Calder.

Butterbur | Source

Butterbur - Petasites hybridus

Butterbur is a strange member of the daisy family. It is hard to recognise as a daisy at all!

Like coltsfoot, the flowers appear before the leaves. The leaves are large and heart shaped with a greyish underside. It is a plant which loves a damp place and I have found it most often beside streams.

This one was photographed beside Pendle Water (stream) where it runs through Barrowford Park, about 5 miles from Burnley.

Marsh marigold habitat can prove to be a trap for the over eager photographer. I had to haul my wellington boot out of the bog, by hand!
Marsh marigold habitat can prove to be a trap for the over eager photographer. I had to haul my wellington boot out of the bog, by hand! | Source

Marsh Marigold - Caltha palustris

The marsh marigold flower looks like a big buttercup, but the leaves are different, being solid rather then frondy and it is an altogether bigger plant. Care should be taken when photographing the marsh marigold, because true to its name it does like marshes. This can prove slightly calamitous to the over eager photographer.

These marsh Marigolds were photographed in Castle Clough Wood which is about five miles away from Burnley, near Huncoat. They can also be found in meadows near Childers Green, which is on the other side of the road to Castle Clough.

Marsh Marigold
Marsh Marigold | Source

Wood-sorrel - Oxalis acetosella

From above wood-sorrel flowers can look a bit like wood anemones, but crouch at their level and you will see that inside the petals is delicately veined in pink/lilac. The leaves are very different too - the wood-sorrel has clover-like leaves whilst the wood anemone's are frondy.

This photograph was taken in Castle Clough wood. Wood-sorrel can also be found in adjacent Childer's Green wood.

Wood-sorrel | Source

Coltsfoot - Tussilago farfara

Like butterbur's flowers, the coltsfoot flower appear before the leaves and as it favours bare ground it can be rather surprising to see a flower apparently coming from nowhere. It gets its name from the shape of the leaves which are greyish green and somewhat hoof shaped. They're often about the size of a horses hoof too.

The one photographed had taken a hold in a pile of fine gravel beside Crown Point Road, Burnley. The foliage around it is from other plants, as its leaves haven't come up yet.

Coltsfoot | Source

Wood Anemone - Anemone nemorosa

Wood anemones really make me feel as though spring is taking over from winter. They grow in deciduous woods, but don't like very acid soils. They are an uplifting site when they are growing and flowering in profusion, beating bluebell woods as a 'must see' for me. They can be white, as below, tinged pink or pink. The word anemone is ridiculously difficult to say - try running through it a few times and see if you can get the n and ms round the right way!

I photographed this one beside Pendle Water where it runs through Barrowford. Although it isn't in a wood, it is a remnant of when the area was wooded. There are still some mature trees beside the stream in this area. There are also some in the woodland bordering Sweet Clough (stream) in Burnley.

Wood Anemone
Wood Anemone | Source
Jack by the Hedge - aka garlic mustard, has garlic scented leaves when crushed
Jack by the Hedge - aka garlic mustard, has garlic scented leaves when crushed | Source
Jack by the Hedge has clusters of small white flowers
Jack by the Hedge has clusters of small white flowers | Source

Jack by the Hedge - Alliaria petiolata

I love the fact that hundreds of years ago people were so familiar with this plant that they gave it a human name - 'Jack' and an address - 'by the hedge'. It is also known as garlic mustard and you will smell the garlic if you tear a little bit of leaf off and crush it between your fingers. It is a tough plant that grows by hedges and roadsides.

This one was photographed beside Marlborough Street in Burnley.

Lesser Celandine - Ranunculus ficaria

The lesser celandine is easy to distinguish from the greater celandine because it is more buttercup like with heart shaped dark green leaves, whereas the greater celandine has a more poppy lie flower and pale green wavy edged leaves.

The lesser celandine shouts spring sunshine at you, gleaming from hedgerows and shady places. I have found them growing in many places around Burnley including the meadows off Lower Rosegrove Lane, where this one was photographed, and Worsthorne churchyard.

Lesser celendine
Lesser celendine | Source

Bluebell - Hyacinthoides non-scripta

I've covered the bluebell in one of my other wild flowers in Burnley hubs, but since it's quite possibly illegal to mention British spring wild flowers and leave out the bluebell, I thought I'd include it here too. If you can catch a bluebell wood at just the right week when the bluebells are at their peak, it is a beautiful sight, but a week or two earlier or later you might be a little disappointed that the display isn't all it's talked up to be.

I photographed these bluebells on a rainy day in Hagg Wood, Burnley (an odd name for a very lovely wood).

Bluebells | Source


In the UK the primrose vies with the bluebell for the accolade of iconic flower of spring. Could I pick a favourite of the two? Honestly no - I'd have to say whichever one I was looking at at the moment and hope that I don't see both in the same eyeful. These glorious primroses are in Clifton Heights - a snippet of wood boundaried by the motorway, a railway line and surrounded by Burnley town, all of which fade into the background as you gaze at the primrosey loveliness.

The primrose is quite a promiscuous plant and will hybridise with both the cowslip and oxslip producing variable plants with characteristics from each parent.

a carpet of primroses
a carpet of primroses | Source
primrose | Source

When and Where to See Spring Wild Flowers in Burnley

Preferred Habitat
Flowering Time
Where Found in Burnley
Deciduous woodland
Sweet Clough Wood, Burnley, Castle Clough Wood near Huncoat, Hagg Wood, Burnley
Ditches, damp meadows, waterside
Pendle Water running through Barrowford, Sweet Clough, Burnley
bare ground
Crown Point Road, Burnley
Meadows and woods
Barrowford Park, near Burnley, Clifton Heights Wood, Burnley
Jack by the hedge, garlic mustard
Hedgerows and roadside
Marlborough Road, Stoops Estate
Lesser Celendine
woods, hedgerows, damp shade
Meadows off Lower Rosegrove Lane, Worsthorne churchyard
Marsh Marigold
Marshes, damp grassland, pond edges
Meadow adjacent to Childers Green, Castle Clough near Huncoat, Hagg Wood, Burnley
Deciduous woods
Clifton Heights Wood, Burnley Ightenhill Park Rd, Burnley
Wood anemone
Deciduous woods
Pendle Water running through Barrowford and can be seen from the footpath beside Ormerod Wood near Hurstwood, Sweet Clough, Burnley, Hagg Wood, Burnley
Deciduous woods
Castle Clough and Childers Green near Huncoat, Hagg Wood, Burnley
Flowering season of English Spring Wildflowers

Since I Can't Decide, Perhaps You'd Like to Pick a Favourite

Which British Wild Flower Do You Think Epitomises Spring Best?

See results


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    • Greensleeves Hubs profile image

      Greensleeves Hubs 

      7 years ago from Essex, UK

      That's fine nettlemere; I can just copy from the photo on this page. The review is nearly complete - I just have to choose a couple more hubs from my shortlist for inclusion, and hopefully get permissions from a couple of other authors for the use of photos. Hope when it's published it brings one or two more readers your way! Alun.

    • Nettlemere profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Burnley, Lancashire, UK

      Thank you so much Alun for your positive comments and I'm both flattered and delighted that you are keen to use my hub as an example for one of your review hubs - having looked at your dinosaur one I can see that you do a really thorough and interesting report when you review. I'm very happy for you to use one of my photos. Do I need to email it to you or will you be able to access it from here?

    • Greensleeves Hubs profile image

      Greensleeves Hubs 

      7 years ago from Essex, UK

      A really nice guide to some of the more attractive wild flowers to be found in England, and specifically in Lancashire. People should be encouraged to get out more and enjoy the countryside and it helps to increase the enjoyment if they can identify any flowers they see. The photos are of course also very helpful in this regard as well as being attractive in their own right. Voted up nettlemere as an attractive, interesting and useful hub.

      Speaking of the photos, I am writing a review of hubs which feature wild plants and flowers, and would like to include this as one of my ten favourites on HubPages (as well as mentioning one or two of your other hubs). However I always include one photo to represent a hub that I review, and so I would like to ask if it is OK to use one of these photos (probably the primroses) in my review, which I will probably publish within two weeks? Cheers, Alun.

      If you wish to see an example of the kind of reviews I write and how the photo would be used, one of my previous reviews can be found at this link:

    • Nettlemere profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Burnley, Lancashire, UK

      Thank you D.A.L. it does sometimes take a lot of remembering when the weather seems determined to turn us aquatic!

    • D.A.L. profile image


      7 years ago from Lancashire north west England

      Nettlemere, you are so right to point out the beauty in the countryside of Lancashire. We may have wet and windy weather but this can never take away the beauty of our wonderful county. Loved this hub.

    • Nettlemere profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Burnley, Lancashire, UK

      Thank you Stephanie - I'm trying to catch one of my local Bluebell woods in full flourish, but it's not quite there yet - only hope it doesn't reach perfection during a rainy week when it won't photograph so well!

    • Stephanie Henkel profile image

      Stephanie Henkel 

      7 years ago from USA

      I just love your spring wildflower tour of English countryside. Some of the flowers are similar to those I've seen in Northeastern woods in the U.S., but I don't think they're exactly alike. I love the cowslips and marsh marigolds, and I would love to see the bluebells in full bloom! Your lovely photographs make me want to take a walk in the woods. Voted up and shared!

    • Nettlemere profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Burnley, Lancashire, UK

      Thanks Imogen for reading and commenting, I've lived in the South near Bath and the Midlands as well and really enjoy comparing the wild flowers in different habitats too.

    • Imogen French profile image

      Imogen French 

      7 years ago from Southwest England

      I really enjoyed this hub, it's interesting comparing your more northerly wild flowers with ours down south! We have many of the same, particularly bluebells and primroses, but I've never found butterbur or cowslips here. Lovely pictures too :)

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I'm glad England still has the bluebells I remember wandering through a half-century ago. Lovely. "When April with its flowers sweet the drought of March has pierced to the root..."

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 

      7 years ago from San Francisco

      Hahaa, I totally cracked up when I saw the photo of your trapped boot! These plants are so cool. Love this Hub!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      So delightful to read a hub about delightful flowers that are all around us at the moment. Excellent info and really like the table at the end for easy reference.


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