Flowers that are happy in wilds of Yorkshire

I wonder if any of the Tour de France cyclists had a chance to take a look at the scenery as they flashed through Yorkshire?


Probably not – a quick glance going down Holme Moss would more than likely have ended with a trip in an Air Ambulance.

No, the riders kept their eyes to the front and dreamed of the delights of French cuisine and not the aroma of fish and chips and Timothy Taylor’s finest ales.

But perhaps some of the many thousands of visitors had time to appreciate the sights and scenery before the cyclists came and went. And perhaps some spied a few of the treasures which have benefited from an end to the blanket use of herbicides.

Believe it or not, Yorkshire is blessed with wild flowers. You just have to look for them. Some are more obvious than others – witness the fields of blood-red poppies, the great waves of ox-eye daisies, whole glades of foxgloves, woodlands whose floors turn to seas of bluebells.

Elsewhere, the Dales are home to many rare and beautiful orchids, and the limestone terraces of the Craven area provide ideal growing conditions for numerous small but beautiful plants. And on the east coast, the clifftops are covered by vast tracts of red campion.

But wild flowers come in many forms and given a chance, will thrive. And the reduction in the use of those weedkillers, particularly on roadsides, has encouraged many plants to take hold. Now it’s possible to see common orchids blooming within feet of motorways.

These are the obvious ones whose size and colour make them stand out. But lower down, in and among the grass, living in cracks in mortar are hundreds of wild flowers just getting on with their business of growing, seeding and increasing their numbers. Tiny cranesbills, sedums, saxifrages, bell flowers... look and you’ll find them.

Unfortunately, there are also a few rogues – Himalayan balsam may be pretty and long-flowering, but it is taking over huge areas of damp and shady land once the home to native, less-invasive wild flowers. And wild garlic is another rampaging plant (although it’s still a lovely, sight when in spring it clothes the ground in woodlands).

So, get off your bike and get looking for another of Yorkshire’s many attractions – the flowers.