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Archive for the ‘Wildflowers’ Category

It’s been a while since I posted about the beautiful Hawthorns that I have been observing as part of the Tree of the Year project. They sit atop the Downs, relentlessly battered by wind and rain, and as a result they differ from many of the other Hawthorns in this area. With everything being early this year, most of the trees already had bright red berries at the beginning of August, not quite ready for harvest, but not far off. On these trees however, the berries were still small and green, reflecting how the harshness of their environment affects their development.

Nearly a month on they are reddening up nicely and the trees from a distance have that exquisite blush which tells you autumn is around the corner.

There is no doubt that the constant high winds we have had all summer have taken their toll. The trees look less healthy than this time last year with many of the leaves browning and some branches swept almost bare. Like people whose lives have been filled with hardship, they are weathered and worn.

It’s interesting to observe how bare of berries the side of the trees that faces the wind is compared to the relatively more sheltered branches.

I feel these trees teach me a lot about resilience, tenacity and strength and about adaptability in the face of hardship. They speak of the beauty of form and motion and of holding fast to this living edge of surrender. Perhaps most importantly they show that, in spite of difficulties, it is still possible to give generously.

Elsewhere on the Downs other Hawthorns tell their stories, each as unique as snowflakes.

I loved this one, entangled with the wild rose like lovers.

And everywhere the berries are fat and red and perfect. I’ll be out next week to get the first harvest in. Who wants pills when your medicine can look like this?

The Downs themselves are carpeted with wild flowers at present.

The yellows and whites of bedstraw, yarrow, burnet saxifrage and cat’s-ears mix with the mauves and purples of two of my favourite wild flowers;

Small Scabious

and Round-headed Rampion.

Whilst lone stalks of agrimony wave in the breeze.

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The Spring blooms are looking utterly resplendent this year, aglow in the bright sunshine and adorning every woodland and waste ground with their wild beauty.

Daises and dandelions make a happy trio.

Many things like the woodland bluebells have arrived earlier than usual with the warm weather.

They look particularly beautiful with the white blooms of stitchwort.

The sweet violets have all gone now but dog violets can still be seen. Unlike the sweet violet these have no taste so are not as valuable for medicine but are still deeply healing for their mucilaginous and clearing properties and for their faery like beauty.

Another flower long associated with the faery folk is cowslip, in fact they are thought to lead the way to the fairy realm. In Shakespeare’s The Tempest, Ariel tells us  “Where the bee sucks there suck I, In the cowslip’s bell I lie, There I crouch when owls do cry, On the bat’s back I do fly.”

Cowslip is a useful anti-spasmodic and helpful for nervous tension though be careful if you decide to harvest it from the wild as it is becoming endangered.

Lungwort and speedwell are another welcome sight. There are many different species of speedwell, below are the common field speedwell and the tiny but perfectly formed ivy leaved speedwell.

Lungwort – Pulmonaria officinalis

Field speedwell.

Ivy leaved speedwell.

Forget-me-nots are one of my favourite sights at this time of year and the similarly flowered green alkanet which, though very invasive, is still lovely to see in great stands by the side of the road.

Forget-me-not. How could we?

Green Alkanet 

Finally all the dead nettles, or archangels as thy are attractively known, are out and looking lovely as ever. The only one I know that is used medicinally is the white dead nettle though Culpepper says all three have a beneficial action as astringents in staunching bleeding. I will report more on this after I’ve done a bit of research!

White Archangel.

Yellow Archangel.

Red (sometimes called purple) Archangel.

I hope the Spring flowers are brightening your day too.

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