AFTER NATURE'S WEDDING when the ground was strewn with petal-confetti, I walked along the road, and delighted in my wild garden by the wayside.
There I saw growing in blue-eyed carpets Germander Speedwell or Jump Up And Kiss Me as they call it across the green sea.
And waving white Cow Parsley, beautiful stalks of lace, with sinister other names: Mother-Die, Stepmother's Blessing the children called it, don't pick it or it will break your mother's heart.
I saw Vetch that clings with wiry tendrils onto things.
And White Dead-nettle pretending to sting.
For gamboling children with a stitch in their side, Stitchwort grew for the piskies to hide.
And Red Campion which they used to call pudding bags on account of their shape.
I saw Goosegrass, or Cleavers, the sticky plant for finding out sweethearts.
And Ground Ivy, all mauve amongst the grass, and bearing the lovely other name Robin-run-in-the-hedge.
Common Mouse-Ear Chickweed or Mouse-ears for making peasant cough syrup grew in little white daintynesses there too.
And escapees from the forest, Bluebells blue.
Dove's Foot Cranesbill, whose roots powdered in claret were thought miraculous against ruptures, danced pinkly there.
And looking out at me from their grassy green sky, two open Daisies: a perfect day's eye.
As the day wandered on I saw yellow tooth-of-lion dent-de-lion Dandelions sending off their seeds.
And I waved off the what-o'clocks as a kiss on the breeze.
Everywhere I went on this wild-flower day, there grew lush confederations of green stingers, which I gathered in gloved hands for tea.
We infused it in a teapot for keeping away the summer sneezing, and we cooked it as greens in our dinner, sharing in an old tradition of using nettles in food.
They are full of iron and delicious in soups too. Nettle tales and lore abound, but I shall share just one here: A New Forest Gypsy in 1952 was recorded as using nettles as a contraceptive. The plant had to be laid inside the man's socks as a sole for 24 hours before his dalliance with his lady!
It'll sting you for your pains
Grasp it like a man of mettle
And it soft as silk remains
Now as I sit here writing, I see that some of these spring flowers have wandered into my spring Crow painting for Melanie.
My bookshelves are full of plantish books, but for wayside identification I cannot recommend highly enough Roger Phillips' Wildflowers of Britain and indeed all the others in his photographic series. For the folkloric side of things, the brilliant Oxford Dictionary of Plant Lore will keep you diverted for hours.
And two cuckoos in the trees are cuckoo-echoing, like children singing a round as the shadows get long. And I am off to sit in the evening...