A Greek god in my garden

Vaughn Matthews

My garden is at its best in spring. In no small part this is due to the Farley by-pass. Farley is a tiny hamlet between Much Wenlock and Buildwas. The narrow road through Farley was blighted with stone-laden lorries from the quarries of Wenlock Edge travelling to Telford and beyond. A by-pass was deemed essential.

So, in the mid-1990s, a new road was carved through Farley Dingle, creating new geological exposures (to the delight of geologists) but destroying some tiny wildflower-rich meadows.

In advance of the bulldozers 2 or 3 of us rescued some of the wildflowers. There were cowslips, primroses, lily of the valley, autumn crocus, orchids and wood anemones to name but a few. Most went to schools with wildlife areas, but a few made it home with me to my garden.

Now, every spring, heralded by the dawn chorus, my garden bursts into floral life. Surprisingly, all the rescued flowers (with the exception of the orchids) have thrived. But the flowers that bring me the greatest joy are the wood anemones.

John Hughes garden

Hugging the ground, their white flowers open long before trees have come into leaf. This is a deliberate ploy so they complete their annual reproductive cycle before the woodland canopy closes and light is excluded from the forest floor.

Their delicate flowers nod and bob in the spring breezes giving them their common name – windflower. Even their scientific name comes from Anemos Greek god of the wind and Anemone was the wind’s daughter.

Wood anemone

Philip Precey

In the spring sunshine closely observing my wood anemones I could be in almost any of Shropshire’s ancient woodlands instead – Earls Hill, near Pontesbury has the best show I know of. Trapped at home, I can still enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of wildlife and think back on some of my most memorable wildlife encounters.

John Hughes

Shropshire Wildlife Trust