Some wildflowers will bloom almost throughout the year. These often tend to be the flowers which are commonly thought of as weeds. For example Bittercress or Groundsel nearly always in flower in my garden.
Others though have a more defined period during which they bloom. It is nice to follow the annual pattern Snowdrops first then a bit latter the Ramsons followed Bluebells and so on. Its a bit like the migrant birds arriving in Spring, we all keep an eye out for the first swallow or the first time we hear a Cuckoo.
I was surprised to see that already the Winter Heliotrope is in flower. These photos were taken on 16th December, but I had spotted that some were in flower about a week earlier.
These are growing on a roadside bank which faces south, so they are getting as much sun and warmth as is available, which does not amount to much this year. I did notice that in other areas they were not yet flowering.
Is this the first of our ‘Spring’ wildflowers? Of course it is not a native, originating from North Africa and it is spreading quite rapidly to the detriment of some of our native species. I also wonder if it is flowering some what earlier this year than normal.
All the more surprising as you would think a plant that has its home in warm countries would maybe prefer to flower when the weather is slightly more clement. Maybe it flowers in its native lands during December and January because that is when the conditions are not so red hot and it is stuck with that time where ever it may grow.
Evidently flowers know when to bloom because of a gene named Apetala1. and if you want to know more about this then there is a web site called How do flowers know when to bloom
You can also read more about Winter Heliotrope (Petasite fragrans) by clicking on the link.