Wildflowers in May

It is May.  Is there any month more beautiful?  I have been making a new herb bed in the kitchen garden, digging out an area which has become full of grass and ground elder.  At this time of year you could work in the garden all day long and still not finish what is to be done so if we are to seize the moment it is important not to fall prey to the endless to do list, either written or mental.  It is important to seize the day.


We walk up the drive, through the farmyard and out onto the hill.  Cowslips are blooming at the edge of the drive.  In Welsh they are called Briallen Fair, Mary's primrose.   A little colony of these was growing up here when we came nearly twelve years ago now.  For a few years they appeared every spring, the patch never really growing.  Then a couple of years ago they took off and began to spread.  Now there is an area perhaps six feet long crowded with them.  Unlike primroses, they hold their heads high on long stems.  The colours vary from rich buttercream to clear yellow.  This year one has leapt across the drive, one solitary flower looking rather bemused to find itself so far from its sisters.  Shall I dig it up and move it somewhere else?  I like the idea of cowslips in the orchard but I know from hard experience that things often do far better up here if you let them go their own way.  Human interference doesn't always pay off.


Maybe I will leave them to see what happens.

Out in the lane we walk down the hill.  Sometimes we walk up, into the sun and the wind to where the Vale of Clwyd spreads and the mountains of Snowdonia hang mistily in the west.  Up hill brings sheep and lambs, the call of the cuckoo and the rising march of the Clwydian range.  Downhill is less dramatic in terms of views but it is hard and steep and coming back up makes the heart pound and the breath labour.  Sometimes it is good to make one's body work and to resist the urge for ease and beauty.  Besides, it is May.  There are wild flowers at the edge of the road all the way down the hill.


There are the white flowers of stitchwort, starred against early fronds.  In parts of France this was known as the Virgin Mary's herb, l'herbe a la sainte-vierge, and in many parts of Europe it was renowned for its ability to ease stitches and pains in the side.  In Welsh it is called serenllys, star of the  court.


This I believe is a form of dog violet but it is not viola odorata, the sweet violet, which is common up here.  This one has a longer, more delicate flower, with pointed rather than rounded petals.  It is a beautiful, delicate thing but there is only one growing all by itself, easily missed in the bottom of the hedge.


By contrast this is very common, at the bottom of every hedgerow in the country and in wasteland in towns and cities too.  It has a multiplicity of names but is commonly known as jack by the hedge, or garlic mustard.  You can eat it, picked young and away from exhaust fumes.  It has a crisp, slightly mustardy flavour and is good eaten in a sandwich.


And there are bluebells.  Has there ever been such a year for bluebells?  They are everywhere.  Look into the wood and they are misted amongst the trees.  Along the verge they hang their delicate heads.  These are English bluebells, as distinct from the Spanish variety with which they hybridise.  English bluebells have flower on one side of the stem, rather than all around as the Spanish ones do.  As a result they bend over with a delicacy which the more upright Spanish flowers do not share.  The colour is darker and more intense.  In Welsh these are bwtsiasen y gog: cuckoo's boots.  Isn't that fabulous?  "Gog" is the Welsh word for cuckoo, the call sounding from the woods carpeted with bluebells.  So the bluebells and the cuckoo calls arrive together.


Is there any month more beautiful than May?

Comments

  1. My mum always called cowslips - peggles, so that was what we always called them in East Anglia, but it was nice to learn the Welsh name.
    Christy
    Lilbitbrit

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    1. Peggles! I love that. So many names for wildflowers. I should make a study!

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  2. What a lovely post - and such a variety of floral beauty in your surroundings.
    Mary Jenkins at http://shirleyartanddoods.blogspot.co.uk

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    1. Thank you and thanks for commenting! This is a great time of year for wildflowers, probably the best.

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  3. A lovely collection of wild flowers on your walk, May is such a lovely month, the promise of so much plant life

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    1. There is something about the colour, that clear, singing green, and the sense of glorious renewal that gets me every time!

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  4. ah, that is why it is called stitchwort!

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    1. Makes sense I suppose but I'd never thought of it! Why should such a delicate flower have anything at all to do with a pain in the side!?

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  5. So lovely to see photos of spring as we head into winter.

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    1. of course, you are ending your summer as we are starting ours!

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  6. Quite the loveliest month, I agree! Thank you for celebrating it. And a fabulous year for English Bluebells ...

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    1. it seems an amazing year for bluebells! all the places where there are normally a few have loads, and all the good places are simply fantastic!

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  7. May is my favorite month also for the reasons you mentioned. We are not getting the best weather this year, but new life is appearing all over and it is always thrilling and invigorates my spirit.

    Your pictures are lovely.

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    1. thank you! taking photos had been transformed for me by my phone. so easy!

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  8. What a lovely post. It is Autumn here in Australia and all your "common" flowers are like rare jewels to us here, so my mum who hails from Malvern will love to see these pictures. Thank you.

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    1. Hi and welcome to the blog! One of the things I found very strange when we visited Australia earlier this year was that I didn't know the plant life. I am so used to knowing most of the plants in gardens and countryside at home!

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  9. I didn't know the Welsh name for stitchwort - how interesting! The hedgerows are so beautiful at this time of year... although the changes seem to happen faster every year now! xx

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    1. I like to know the old names for flowers and the Welsh ones. Many of them are so evocative!

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  10. May, my favourite month too (although sometimes I say that about every month). We were in Cornwall last week and the wildflowers on the Coastal path and through the woods were beautiful in the spring sunshine. I like to think that stitchwort is so named because its petals are neat like stitches. We eat jack-by-the-hedge in sandwiches and I've made Cornish and Surrey wild garlic pesto and will be making elderflower cordial soon. Our allotment cuckoo hasn't returned this year ... and two years ago the sound of the cuckoo from the woodland I see from my house fell silent. My expert friends tell me that global warming is responsible. By the time the cuckoos return, the host nests (mostly sparrows and warblers) have been and fledged. I fear we are racing to a world devoid of all diversity due to our insatiable desires.

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    1. I hate to think of a world without cuckoos! I can hear a couple I think in our valley. We are quite high up here and lots of things are later than in areas further south or lower down. Perhaps that helps them!

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  11. A lovely collection of wild flowers on your walk, May is such a lovely month, the promise of so much plant life

    ตารางคะแนนพรีเมียร์ลีก

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