Friday, February 26, 2010

Summer is not icumen in

It goes on and on and on, maybe spring is around the corner, but the wind buffets the windows this morning, rain yesterday and the days before interspersed with snow, more rain forecast, two weather fronts battling out over Britain. Up north in Scotland the deer are dying of starvation with all the snow around - wretched weather!
Some summer photos to cheer the day...

This purple rose gets darker with age

Blue bugle, its 'blueness' lit by the sun

white campion

a wood full of ramsoms

White campion; Geoffrey Grigson gives a splendid history of white campion, its virginal colour belies the fact that it was thought of as a death flower that could kill your mother, if you as child picked it. Apparently it was pollinated by moths at night, so I suppose the eerie spectacle of shining white flowers with moths fluttering around had that effect. Of course red campion had the same effect on your father! But these harmless flowers also had other virtues, they were 'thunder flowers' as well, if you picked them as a child in North Germany you would be killed by lightning.

He also goes on to say that they can be found on Neolithic and Bronze Age sites, this I presume because such sites are protected from the worst ravages of modern farming. I have tried to grow them but they soon disappear, the red campion grows quite easily, its stoloniferous? roots moving forward like the nettle plant, the red campion is always with you. Not so white campion which is very fickle.

Bugle; As Grigson says you find it in colonies in wood or damp grass, 'it is a blacke herbe and it groweth in shaddowy places and moyst groundes' - William Turner. Or perhaps 'of a sky and changeable colour'. Though Gerard called it 'Brown Bugle', or Wodebroun (14th century); its a wound herb, and I think the little blue bugle that grows in lawns must be a smaller version of it. But the above photo shows the dark colouring of the flowers as they emerge from their sheath.

Ransoms; Grigsons writes,' in blossom or leaf ramsons is one of the beautiful plants', as the above photo shows. It has a white star flower, and can be smelt very strongly if you pass by a wood in the car. The OE name was hramsa, hramsan is therefore a double plural - Ramsey in Essex, Ramsbottom etc....

Geoffrey Grigson; The Englishman's Flora (my Desert Island book)

At Christmas I bought Grigson's The Shell Country Alphabet for my partner, now this has the sub title From Apple trees to Stone Circles, the book has recently been republished. So a taste of his Apple Trees entry;

Less particular about soil, then plum or cherry, more reliable in yield than pear trees, apple trees in blossom around a village are so characteristic that it may be recalled that apples were eaten by the neolithic people, the first farmers and herdsmen of England, who visited the Causeway camp or moot on Windmill Hill outside Avebury, in Wiltshire, 4000 and more years ago. Pips were found on pottery, possibly from native crabs, which would have been sour in the neolithic no less than a modern mouth, but perhaps from the sweet fruits of Malus sylvestris Ssp mitis. which the Windmill people could have bought with them from overseas. This sub-species native of south-east Europe and south-west Asia, is the parent of garden apple, and may have been grown already in neolithic Europe.. Apples were held to be revivifying and rejuvenating, and there are stories to that effect from the Irish and Norse mythology, as well as from the Near East. Loki, for instance, stole the apples which the goddess Ithunn kept for the gods to eat when they grew old, and gave them to the giants. The gods withered and wrinkled with age, and Loki was forced to get the apples back. ..Most of the exquisite blossoms around the church towers and spires turn to a very dull fruit..

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for these beautiful pictures, so cheering.

    Miss W x