Yesterday I walked into town, a trip I try and make once a week if possible as it allows me the chance to look at the landscape with new eyes and to get away from the computer for a couple of hours. All around me, the crops are ripening – barley now carpets the gentle slopes opposite me in reddish gold, and the oats are plumping out quickly, soon to turn a rich burnished gold, almost as a reflection of the sun. The poppies are still flowering in the fields and hedgerows, and they have now been joined by quite a range of different wild flowers, from lady’s bedstraw to meadowsweet. I did something rather unusual for me yesterday and picked a variety of different wildflowers to put in a jar on the windowsill. Here is a selection of some of the wildflowers currently growing near me.
I rediscovered a few old friends recently, flowers that I have not seen growing wild since I was a child first beginning my explorations into wildflowers and herbal medicine. First of these would have to be Fumitory – Fumaria officinalis.
Ruled by Saturn, the delicate Fumitory is like a breath of smoke that drifts about where it will. It’ll grow quite unexpectedly one year, then the following year when you look for it you will find it has gone again. It is generally used for digestive related issues – constipation, jaundice, biliary colic etc. Use with caution – being a herb of Saturn, it is best not to approach the plant with impunity. Used over long periods of time, it has a marked sedative effect.
The above lot of colourful plants all share the similar flowers of the lamiaceae family – and many of the plants share the same basic squarish stem and toothed leaves, though there are differences, as the Wood Betony has much more rounded leaf edges, whereas the other three are all quite sharp looking.
We have clumps of the rather glorious looking Rosebay Willowherb growing just up the lane from my home – a really beautiful sight as it forms huge, quite dense clumps of tall flower spikes that draw the eye. Its relative is the Greater Willowherb, Epilobium hirsutium, which is not used medicinally as it is far too harsh. I have yet to get a decent photograph of the lesser Willowherb – it has small pale lilac flowers and seed pods that produce beautiful, delicate seeds like dancers.
Last, for this post at least, is the delightfully fragranced Lady’s Bedstraw. This grows in great swathes on the footpaths and commons around Lincolnshire, perfuming the air with the scent of cut grass and vanilla, an indication of the presences of coumarins in the plant. Pick a little and use it as a cut flower in the house – it lasts surprisingly well in water and the scent will fragrance your home for quite some time.
July paints the land golden and strokes my skin,
the warm breeze, flower scented,
caresses drops of ocean from me,
making shade a blessing.
Timeless, the land holds its breath,
the long, golden summer seeming eternal,
quiet, save for the sound of crickets,
yet soon, Persephone will descend once more,
and Demeter, despairing,
will storm her fury,
breathing autumn across the land,
a tidal wave of mist, of red and bronze.
As above, so below – the fields agree,
Grainne blessed, heads nodding in the breeze,
my skin, the fields, both gently gilded,
by this sultry season.