The pretty pale pink Cuckoo Flower, commonly known as Lady’s Smock, is one of the loveliest sights of spring, blooming in damp, grassy places, along river banks and ditches. At FarmED they’re growing on the pond margins and in our tussocky wet meadows.
It’s believed that the flower’s name derives from the fact that it comes into flower in April, coinciding with the arrival of the first cuckoo. Sadly these iconic and secretive dove-sized birds, which produce one of the most recognised sounds in nature, are a red list species due to their recent population decline. So while the flower is a welcome sight in spring, it’s currently rarely accompanied by the distinctive and evocative song of its namesake.
However Cuckoo Flowers are also essential larval food plants for the orange-tip butterfly, so called because the males are unmistakable - white butterflies with bright orange wingtips - and we are seeing plenty of these on sunny days at FarmED. Orange-tips also prefer damp habitats such as meadows, woodland glades, hedgerows and the banks of streams and rivers. They’re notoriously ‘flighty’ and therefore difficult to photograph, but this one stayed still on the ground ivy for just long enough.