April 2006 – Spring in Ryde Cemetery
Ryde Cemetery is home to a variety of wildlife and plants. The increased light and sunshine of early spring have taken over from the grey skies of winter. The gentle weather has brought to life a variety of herbaceous wild spring flowers, such as primroses and wood anemones, as well as the bulbs planted on the graves – daffodils and crocus of various forms and colours. Because these plants have been growing side by side for many years, there is evidence of naturalisation and cross pollination – the offspring of primulas, polyanthus, and primroses show a range of colours in the primrose clumps, from almost white, through to very pale pink. They are prolific, growing in the ideal conditions of moist soil and dappled shade offered by the expanding canopy of trees, and in places there is hardly room to put your foot to the ground where the primroses have spread and grown into massed clumps.
The primrose was Benjamin Disraeli’s favourite flower, and Queen Victoria regularly sent him bunches. After his death in 1881, the botanist Sir George Birdwood suggested inaugurating a ‘Primrose Day’ on the 19th April every year. On this day annually a bunch of primroses is placed on Disraeli’s statue in front of Westminster Abbey.
The carpet of pale yellow draws the eye, and the senses are stimulated by the delicate scent and perfume of these spring beauties. Such simple flowers add colour and life to the Cemetery, and herald the renewal of life in the burial ground.