The cold, wet spring we have endured so far in Clackmannanshire has been a disappointment, and for our wildlife, it has been a struggle, with wildflowers and insects desperately needing long, sunny days to prosper.

Indeed, when insects lie low due to the cold, then the knock-on effects are much wider because bats warblers, swallows and martins rely upon them as food, illustrating how everything in nature is inter-linked and dependent upon one another.

Still, there have been signs in the last few days of the weather becoming more settled, and down on the haugh of the River Devon cuckooflower is beginning to emerge in profusion.

The colour of cuckooflower can vary from almost white to deep mauve, and according to John Gerard, the 16th century herbalist, the plant is so-named because it blooms “for the most part in April and May, when the cuckoo begins to sing her pleasant note without stammering”.

The plant is also sometimes known as ‘lady’s-smock’ because of the shape of the flowers, although the name may also allude to cavorting between men and women in spring-time meadows.

Also showing well on the River Devon are marsh marigolds. Like cuckooflower, marsh marigolds often exhibit individual variation, and those found growing by the wild hill burns of the Cairngorms are smaller in form compared to plants in Clackmannanshire. Sometimes known as kingcups, they are such stunning flowers, brilliant yellow orbs of sunshine that adorn the sides of our burns and pond edges. English poet Alfred Lord Tennyson was so entranced by the marsh marigold’s vivid yellow flowers that he described them as shining “like fire in swamps”.

Dandelions, too, are abundant on roadside verges throughout the Wee County, their intricately frilled flower-heads being little orbs of joyous sunshine. It is baffling how dandelions are regarded as weeds, despite their colour being as vibrant as any garden flower. At a time when our precious insect populations are in tumultuous decline, dandelions adorning banksides, fields and gardens are life-giving oases that should be revered and cherished.

In the next few days, listen out for cuckoos calling from high up in the Ochil glens. It is a wonderful, evocative call that carries far in the hill breeze.