Saturday, 24 May 2014

Musing in May


"It would be difficult at this time of year not to see beauty in weeds. The ditches in our lane are milky with the white nettle, that exquisite flower with the form of an unsophisticated orchid. In the orchard the sequence of flowering weeds runs it course. As dandelion fades, it gives place to brown plantain with its lace ruff, speedwell, purple vetch, buttercup and cow parsley. Spikes of the beautiful wild salsify stand among the growing grasses, closing their flowers at midday : goat's beard, as some call it, or John-go-to-bed-at-noon, as it is known to others. Along the hedge-bottoms gleam the cuckoo-pints, challenging the darkness of the hedge shade with pale green staves, flapping their limp petals over themselves as their time of flowering draws to its close. Was any flower the possesor of so many names? Cuckoo-pint, priest's pintle, lords and ladies, wild arum, good King Henry *. There is as much charm in the names of our wildflowers and weeds as there is in the flowers themselves"

-  an extract from 'Four Hedges' by Clare Leighton

*Richard Mabey's book 'Flora Britannica' quotes yet more names for the cuckoo-pint including Jack in the pulpit, Devils and angels and Cows and bulls.

28 comments:

  1. I do love the crazy names we have for wildflowers!

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    1. They are indeed weird and wonderful names Janet :)

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  2. I really must get that book people keep quoting from it and I love the way she writes - that is a beautiful passage. Nice to see the ladybird in your picture - haven't seen hardly any this year so far.

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    1. Oh do treat yourself Elaine! The author writes beautifully throughout and I'm sure that you would treasure the book. I've spotted the odd ladybird in the last few weeks but only singletons here and there.

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  3. Common names add character to the weeds, and sometimes make them seem endearing...

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    1. In complete agreement with you :)

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  4. A weed can be as glorious as a cultivated flower, it's just as case of right plant in the right place isn't it!

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    1. Yes that's most certainly true Su. They can hold their head as high as any flower and sometimes even higher.

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  5. What a lovely extract and thanks for posting. It brings back memories of an April almost 16 years ago when I was suddenly bewitched by the patterns that the stems of grasses and stichwort made on a lane from my house down to the village - you've reminded me that I need to take more walks!

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    1. Oh thanks for your comment Cathy. Enjoy those walks :)

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  6. I had never heard of Clare Leighton, she does write beautifully. I have checked her out on Amazon and read about her beautiful woodcuts as well as her great writing. I think I will send off for a copy, it sounds like a wonderful book. Thank you for the post.

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    1. Hope that you have sent off for the book Chloris - her woodcuts are as every bit as good as her writing.

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  7. So many names for just one plant, I wonder how they all came about. I've seen so many ladybirds this year, it must be a good year for them. Hopefully, they'll keep all the aphids at bay.

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    1. It would be fascinating to know all the origins of the different names Jo. All the ladybirds must have flown in your direction. I've seen a few but by no means many.

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  8. They're all great names. I think wild chicory is a beautiful plant. I see it growing in roadsides all around here during Summer.

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    1. Oh the roadsides must look most attractive then Rob. I imagine that there is a myriad of French names too for all the various wild flowers growing there.

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  9. A lovely piece of writing and so evocative - I must look her out too.

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    1. Oh go for it Cathy. You will not be disappointed!

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  10. what evocatiev writing - and what glorious names, for weeds and wildflowers!
    it's a dul hobart winter's day here, so the bright sunshine and colours in your photo are just what i need.

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    1. Oh thank you for your kind comment. I'm so pleased to have bought some sunshine to your winter. It's been dull and miserable here today despite it being nearly summer!

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  11. These are lovely words. I do like all the weird and wonderful names plants have been given over time. In German there is also an array of common names for cuckoo pint, including quite simply "Stinking Flower"!

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  12. I love these musings especially as I'm so fond of all things wild. Don't like the word weeds much...question of definition I reckon. ;)

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    1. It's an unfortunate word Annette as even those plants with bad habits often have redeeming features too.

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  13. I'm sure it's interesting reading about how all these common names came to be. Sweet flowers with a tiny ladybug.

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    1. Thanks for visiting and commenting Grace. On the subject of names it always intrigues me that it's ladybird on this side of the pond and ladybug on yours :)

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  14. Beautiful words combined with a beautiful photo! Thanks for sharing!!! :)

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  15. Oh welcome Debbie! Many thanks for visiting and for your kind comment.

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All your comments are much appreciated and treasured. I wil try to reply to everyone who leaves a comment, but it may take me a few days, especially when I start spending more time in the garden and at the lottie. I know that you will understand :) I am sure that I will also visit your blog if I have not already done so. If you have any specific questions I will either reply to them here or you can email me at : thegreentapestry@gmail.com

Namasté

- Anna.