Enjoy learning about these wonderful spring and summer flowers! Included are lots of fun facts about cow parsley, tulips, buttercups, cornflowers, stinging nettles and heather.
Children have a natural affinity with nature.
Spending time outdoors in green spaces and observing nature, is great for our physical and mental well-being, not to mention being perfect for fun, informal learning!
I’ve chosen spring and summer flowers which can be found all around us.
Perhaps you’ll spot them on walks, in parks, in gardens and growing along hedgerows, pavements and roadsides.
Cow parsley is a wild flower and is found throughout the UK, Europe, western Asia and northwestern Africa.
You will see it growing in both city areas and countryside.
It prefers shaded areas and grows next to roadsides, near hedgerows and woodland, as well as our gardens and parks.
Did you know that cow parsley is a member of the carrot family?!
It flowers early in spring usually between April and June.
The flowers are white and they look like fluffy snow, don’t they? They grow in little clusters called umbels.
Other names for cow parsley include fairy lace and hedge parsley.
Cow parsley is important for a variety of insects, including bees, hoverflies and moths. It is an early source of nectar.
Tulip bulbs are planted in autumn and flowers appear in early spring.
They are one of the most popular flowers in our gardens & come in lots of colours, including white, yellow, pink, red, orange, purple & even brown & black!
It is thought that the word ‘tulip’ comes from the Persian word for ‘turban’ as the shape of tulip flowers was similar to the shape of a turban.
Tulips orginally came from central Asia.
People brought them to Europe about 500 years ago and The Netherlands became a very important centre for growing tulips.
This is because the weather there is perfect for growing flowers.
The Netherlands is still the world’s largest tulip grower and produces 3 billion tulip bulbs every year! That is a very big number, isn’t it?!
Tulips belong to the same flower family as lilies.
Buttercups are bright sunshine yellow and insects, such as butterflies and bees, love them!
They are little flowers which appear from May to August.
You’ll find buttercups on grassland, along woodland and field edges, and in parks and gardens. They like to grow where the soil is damp.
The buttercup belongs to a group of flowers called ‘Ranunculus’, which means ‘Little Frog’ in Latin.
This is because buttercups and frogs both like to live in damp places!
The name buttercup comes from the belief that these flowers gave butter its golden colour but, in fact, cows don’t eat buttercups because they taste very bitter and are poisonous for them.
If you hold a fresh buttercup flower up to your chin and a yellow reflection appears, it is thought to be a sign that you like butter.
Have you tried this? Do you like butter?
Cornflowers are beautiful bright blue flowers which appear from June to August.
They used to be very common in fields growing wheat and corn which is how it got its name.
Over time people have given them lots of other names such as star thistle, blue sailor, basket flower and blue dandelion!
They belong to the Daisy family which is the group of flowers which are actually 2 flowers in 1!
Cornflowers have star-shaped flowers on the outside and smaller purplish flowers in the middle.
Cornflowers are edible flowers and their fresh and dried petals are used, for example, to add colour to salads, like in the photograph, and cakes and flavour teas.
Stinging nettles can be found in gardens, hedgerows, parks, fields and woodlands.
We often see nettles around the edges of fields or on building sites as they like soil which is dug up by farmers and builders!
Nettles are great for attracting wildlife and provide a home for as many as 40 types of insects.
They are a valuable food source for caterpillars, bees love their white flowers and birds love to eat nettle seeds.
We can eat nettles too but don’t worry, the nettle ‘sting’ disappears when nettles are boiled!
The leaves can be used in soups, stews and the dried leaves make nettle tea.
Nettles contain magnesium, iron and calcium which are good for us.
Did you also know that we can make rope and fabric out of nettle fibres as they are very strong!
Heather grows wild in heathlands and open woodlands but we can also grow heather plants in our gardens.
It grows throughout the UK, northwestern Europe, northern Asia, and North America.
Heather has tiny, bell-shaped flowers that are purple, pink, red, or white which bloom in late summer and into autumn.
It is an evergreen plant. This means that it does not lose its leaves in autumn.
Bees and butterflies love heather flowers as they contain lots of nectar.
Heather belongs to a group of flowers called ‘Calluna’. This word originally comes from the Greek word ‘Kallune’ which means to clean or brush.
This is because heather can be made into brushes and brooms!
Did you know white-flowered heather is traditionally believed to bring good luck?
Hope you have lots of fun spotting these beautiful spring and summer flowers!
For more nature-related activities, have a look at my blog on the wonders of gardening with children, as well as growing fairytale vegetables. Each vegetable links to a fairytale!
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