When I am king dilly dilly, you shall be queen"
~ lines from an English folk song which dates back to the seventeenth century.
There is something infinitely soothing about returning to the seasonal routines and rhythms of childhood. I have just spent the weekend with my mother, where I was despatched out in to the garden on Sunday morning to gather stalks of lavender, which she dries and uses to scent her wardrobe and drawers. As well as providing scent lavender also acts as a moth deterrent. This task should be done on a dry day when there is no moisture on the flower stalks. The morning is the optimum time to so this when the scent is strongest. It is best to cut the flowers just as they open but already open flowers can be used. They should be dried on open trays or hung up in small bunches out of direct sunlight. Mum dries hers in the airing cupboard.
I enjoyed the half hour or so which I spent snipping and dodging the bees hovering round the lavender bushes. This added element of danger was part of other childhood tasks - I was the chief assistant when it came to jam making. It always seemed to be warm when Mum made jam, so windows were invariably wide open. These sessions were punctuated with regular interludes of frantic wasp swatting, between standing over a simmering pot, scooping out a never ending of plum or damson stones. I certainly earned my pocket money!
August is a good month to take lavender cuttings so I came home with some slips to try to root.
The above illustration is one of Cecily Mary Barker's 'Flower Fairies'.