Nature writer calls for children to be allowed to gather primroses to foster a love of the outdoors

Children should be encouraged to pick wild primroses as earlier generations did to help foster a love of the outdoors, says one of Britain’s leading nature writers.

Richard Mabey says the countryside is so awash with the distinctive flower that children should be able to pick it just as they did decades ago.

Speaking from his Norfolk cottage garden on Primrose Day on Friday, the award-winning author said that there was now a huge number of the distinctive yellow flowers, beloved by Benjamin Disraeli.

Richard Mabey has said the countryside is so awash with primroses that children should be able to pick it just as they did decades ago (stock)

Richard Mabey has said the countryside is so awash with primroses that children should be able to pick it just as they did decades ago (stock)

Richard Mabey has said the countryside is so awash with primroses that children should be able to pick it just as they did decades ago (stock)

‘Each year seems to be better than the last for primroses,’ he said. ‘It’s slightly sad that children can’t pick a bunch from time to time. I’d say, “OK, let kids have a few bunches, get their hands around a flower, give a present to their mums.”’

Conservationists are opposed to the picking of any wild flowers, but Mr Mabey said he could see no environmental reason why the primrose needed continued protection.

‘It is the time of year when children used to pick primroses for their mums or to deck out the local church,’ he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

Mr Mabey said he could see no environmental reason why the primrose needed continued protection, despite conservationists' concerns

Mr Mabey said he could see no environmental reason why the primrose needed continued protection, despite conservationists' concerns

Mr Mabey said he could see no environmental reason why the primrose needed continued protection, despite conservationists’ concerns

‘But all that stopped in the 1980s when a much more conservation-minded public felt that it was improper for children to go on plundering the hedgerows. I think it’s one of the flowers that I would move from the list of needing extreme and total protection.’

Britain’s fondness for the primrose, whose name is synonymous with the arrival of spring, stretches back centuries. Disraeli was such a fan that Queen Victoria would send him bunches from the gardens at Windsor.

Such was the former Prime Minister’s passion that the date of his death in 1881 – April 19 – is now celebrated as Primrose Day.

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