They break the gloom of winter, colouring in the verges with their sunshine yellow and the promise of more to come.
Growing less than a foot high, they boast several flowers per stem with each flower owning five tiny yellow petals with pale orange spots in the middle.
COWSLIPS IN SPRING TIME
Cowslips arrive in early spring and are a gentle presence in the fields in May.
Right now they are growing abundantly all over this part of Galway’s wild Atlantic Way.
It wasn’t always so, for many years Cowslips were pushed back almost into extinction by the advance of agriculture and they have been a rare sight in Ireland until quite recently.
There was also a tradition of making balls from joined together cowslips. The cowslip ball was called a tisty-tosty.
You can read more about this on this site here.
Unfortunately, over-picking combined with the spread of agriculture has led to these delicate flowers becoming scarce in some places, but luckily for us they are not scarce here on Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way.
COWSLIPS AND PRIMROSES – COUNTRY COUSINS
Cowslips are a cousin of the Primrose. If you look closely you can see the similarities in their hairy, ragged-looking leaves.
I have noticed that in our area of Galway the cowslips enjoy centre stage in the fields and meadows where they grow.
Unlike their cousins, the primroses, who grow low down in the banks and hedgerows and under trees.
IN THE WILD
At the moment the cowslips are growing in small groups in the ‘wild’ part of my garden.
It is May now and the great news is that every day when I walk around there are more of them.
Problem is they are swamped by wild grasses.
I was tempted to try digging out some small clumps and moving them to a part of the garden where I could more easily see them.
I wasn’t totally sure they would survive the transplantation so I experimented by relocating just one or two small clumps.
I am glad to say this particular experiment worked and the cowslips are growing happily in their new beds.
COWSLIPS TO KEEP YOU CALM
According to this site here the leaves of the cowslip can be made into a tea to treat hyperactivity and insomnia, while a milder tea made from flowers is said to calm hyperactive children.
However, I am not a doctor or herbalist and so would never give medical advice. I mention this only for interest sake.
If you have medical problems my only advice would be to seek professional medical opinions.
It is easy to make mistakes with plants and homemade herbal remedies can be harmful.
In the meantime I hope that cowslips continue to thrive and increase as they are doing this year.
For a plant that had almost disappeared to make such as strong comeback as the cowslips are making at the moment – we surely must be doing something right.
Bye for now and enjoy your gardening.
For more flowers of the Wild Atlantic Way click right here.
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