Tuesday, 24 April 2012

April wildflowers

Thought you might like to see what's in flower this month in the wild areas of our garden..... (I've been given this great book by Ian's mum "The illustrated book of wild flowers")...still learning!

Primrose (primula vulgaris).  If I didn't keep moving these around they would probably naturalise in the grass.  When they've finished flowering I'll divide them up and put them with the snowdrops and celandines.

Herb Robert (geranium robertianum) - who was Robert??  A lot of these wild flowers have very interesting names.  This one was used to repel mosquitos when rubbed on the skin, or to cure nosebleeds!

 Violet (viola ..... not sure which sort).  I love this flower. One of my favourites.  Apparently a food source for the larvae of several species of butterfly and moth including some fritillaries and underwings.

Ground ivy (glechoma hederacea).  Much nicer than the other sort of ivy, which is EVERYWHERE in our garden.  A constant battle.

Jack-by-the-hedge (alliaria officianalis).  Also called hedge garlic or garlic mustard, and used in the past to flavour fish and meat, and in herbal medicine for ulcers and sore throats!  If you need any don't hesitate, we have loads of the stuff....

Alkanet (alkanna tinctoria).  Another herbal remedy - but interestingly the roots of this plant were used to stain wood the colour of rosewood or mahogany!  I'll be digging some up in the morning to have a look.  The red version of this plant is extremely rare (we don't have any).

Comfrey (symphytum officinale) - the wonder plant by all accounts.  It was cultivated by both the Greeks and the Romans for medicinal purposes.  The name derives from 'con firma' or 'knitbone' and was used to treat bruises and broken bones!  Today it's known for its potency as a liquid plant food.  Also known as boneset, consolida, consormol, consound, Blackwort, Bruisewort, gum plant, healing herb, knitback, salsify, slippery root, wallwort, Yalluc (Saxon), ass ear, nipbone...... I think it's a popular one!

English bluebell (hyacinthoides non-scripta).  There were none of these when we arrived 2 years ago, and still only about 10 have appeared this year despite planting quite a few.  They take a while to get established, and need deep rotted leaf litter from english woodland trees which support a particular fungus to enable them to grow.  I've ordered 200 bulbs 'in the green' this year.  Would love to create a blue haze under the trees.....and that scent!  Note to self - dig up all Spanish bluebells and move to front garden to stop them cross-pollinating.

Lesser celandine (ranunculus ficaria).  One of my favourites.  Only just discovered it grows from a bulb.  It appears to be much quoted in literature....here's DH Lawrence in Sons and Lovers: "...going down the hedgeside with the girl, he noticed the celandines, scalloped splashes of gold, on the side of the ditch. 'I like them' he said 'when their petals go flat back with the sunshine. They seem to be pressing themselves at the sun.'  And then the celandines ever after drew her with a little spell." ....and William Wordsworth (they were carved on his tombstone): 

"I have seen thee, high and low,
Thirty years or more, and yet
T'was a face I did not know."

Daisy (bellis perennis).  Or "Days-eye" because they close their eyes at night.

Red campion (silene dioica) - I collected a lot of seed from the woods last year and scattered it about - hence the masses of flowers this spring.  According to wikipedia it's used by an African tribe to produce vivid dreams!

Forget-me-not (myosotis arvensis)

Cuckoo flower or Lady's Smock (cardamine pratensis).  Really excited this has come back to our garden as it is becoming rare in some areas.  They like damp conditions and with all the trenches we've dug and drainage works not to mention the last two dry years I thought we'd finished them off.  They've appeared in 3 separate areas - only one flower each - but hopefully there'll be more next year.

Its leaves are rich in vitamin C, supports the orange tip butterfly, and is sacred to the fairies!!  

And these little beauties - marsh or spotted orchids? (dactylorhiza)  Actually I've cheated with these - they aren't on our land but are growing wild in the verge about 3 miles from here.  It's the first time I've spotted wild orchids in this area.