Anemone nemorosa (Wood Anemone / Windflower)
These beautiful flowers were carpeting an area of Southampton Old Cemetery, 18th March 2009.
One common name for this plant is "Windflower", given because these small flowers nod gently in any slight breeze. This happens because the thin stalk, about an inch long, that carries the proportionally heavy flower isn't strong enough to keep them still. The fragility of the stalk also means that the flower heads can easily follow the path of the sun throughout the day and, perhaps, make use of the UV light.
At the base of the the thin flower stalk is a little ruff of leaves, beneath these the stem is thicker and stronger. When there are a number of these plants growing together their leaves effectively blanket out, and block sunlight for, any competing plants or germinating seeds.
I have two "favourite" native (wild) spring flowers, and they're both in this picture. Both bring with them memories of childhood rambles and walks, and the delight of seeing both Wood Anemones and Celandines covering huge swathes of deciduous woodland in early spring - as soon as the days begin to lengthen and the temperatures begin to rise.
In this instance a single Celandine - the yellow flower on the right - has managed to get a foothold at the edge of this group of Wood Anemones.
In a few short weeks both Wood Anemone and Celandines will have done their job for the year and all their above-ground growth will have died back. The same happens to most spring flowers.
Their timing is remarkable. They grow (from tubers, seeds and corms), flower and produce seed before the big guys of the plant world, our native deciduous trees, wake up from their winter slumber and begin to think about growing their own leaves. This means that they aren't competing for precious sunlight.
Clever, isn't it.