Saltwell Gill, Durham city: A swathe of wildlings in a wood was a spectacle to make the spirits soar after a long, cold winter
This meandering stream, a mile south of the city centre, has carved a small, steep-sided, wooded valley through soft alluvial soil, providing a refuge for flora and fauna that have long since been displaced by surrounding agriculture. Had I not strayed from the footpath around the fields and explored its slopes I might never have stumbled upon a hidden, isolated population of wild primroses (Primula vulgaris). They were growing in an unharvested hazel coppice that, judging by the diameter of the trunks, had been forgotten for several decades.
Context counts for a lot in the aesthetic impact of wild flowers. A primrose transplanted into a garden is a pretty flower. Finding this swathe of wildlings in such a classic, albeit semi-natural, habitat, soon to be followed by the promise of bluebells, was much more: a spectacle to make the spirits soar after a long, cold winter.