Nottingham Spring Crocus

I recently saw a good example of the Spring Crocus, Crocus vernus, in the garden of a house in New Basford :

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Crocuses are a familiar sight in parks and gardens at this time of year, but these particular plants have an interesting history.  They were planted as a gift from a neighbour, whose own garden was full of them; they had originally been planted in her garden many decades previously by her son, who rescued them from a meadow near the Trent when it was destroyed for development.

This is a plant of local significance.  Although Crocus vernus is not native to the UK, it is considered an ancient introduction, having been naturalised around Nottingham since the 15th Century.  The plant (native to the Balkans) was introduced in the medieval period for medicinal uses, and was thus associated with monasteries – in Nottingham it is believed to have originated from Lenton Priory.

Its origin in Nottingham may be uncertain, but it certainly prospered here; Trentside meadows used to be well-known for their extensive drifts of the flowers.   Sadly most of these meadow sites have been built on, and the flower occurs on a much reduced scale in the wild here now.  Nottingham Spring Crocus is now the subject of a Species Action Plan by the Notts Biodiversity Action Group.

These plants are a direct link to an intriguing piece of Nottingham’s botanical history; let’s hope the species can start to prosper again and reclaim its important place in the local landscape.

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