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.