View from the Heath: What to look out for as spring begins and the Heath wakes up


- Credit: Archant

With the days getting longer and the sun edging higher in the sky, the land begins to warm, and the Heath starts to come alive.

Weekends are incredibly busy in these spring months, attracting huge numbers of Heath lovers hungry to witness new beginnings and new arrivals. We humans instinctively like to spring clean and get out into the fresh air, and nature too has its ways of preparing for the new season.

Many of us know to look for the first snowdrops, crocuses and daffodils which signal this annual cycle of renewal.

However, the first are the wood anemones bursting into flower in the orchard, off Hampstead Lane.

They grow in abundance in well managed ancient woodland, but can often also be found along hedgerows where they play the role of “ghost flowers” in long-forgotten remote areas.

It is no coincidence that our woodland plants are the first to flower. The anemones, lesser celandines and primroses will all be at their prettiest long before any of the Heath’s meadow flowers show off in their late spring displays. The woodland flowers must “do their thing” before the trees come into full leaf, shading out the growing sunlight.

March 31 is an important chapter in the Heath’s history as we celebrate 30 years of the City of London Corporation caring for Hampstead Heath.

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This has been a truly collaborative effort that has seen the City’s commitment and resources brought together, guided and supported by a wide range of individuals, hardworking passionate and committed staff, and trusted organisations to maintain this wonderful resource.

One of the four key outcomes in the new Hampstead Heath Management Strategy for 2018-28 is “Together We Care for the Heath”, and there are plenty of ways we can all get involved and help spring clean and care for it. From volunteering with Heath Hands to taking our rubbish home to recycled, we must care for this beautiful resource and maintain its delicate fauna and flora together.

This is a special time of year to visit the Heath, so come along and see nature at work in the heart of our magnificent city.