In this early spring there are already flowering plants growing wild where my lawn used to be. Unlike the large-petaled and gaudy crocuses and daffodils planted in place, there are plants that just seem to turn up. I could describe these as weeds i.e. plants growing where they are not wanted. But for me right now these tiny plants with their delicate flowers are forming a good groundcover that will be replaced by violets later in the month. They attract wildlife and are edible for the gardener too.
Hairy bittercress (Cardamine hirsuta) attracts butterflies such as the Spring Azure. It bears clusters of tiny white four-petaled flowers on long stalks above a basal rosette of deep green compound leaves. Seeds are held in long, narrow pods, which release seeds explosively far and wide. If you want to stop the spread of this annual plant pull up the basal rosette of leaves before the seeds ripen and use as a bitter herb. As with other members of the mustard family its leaves are loaded with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.