Wednesday, 6 May 2009

What I saw by the wayside

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!




Tender-handed touch-a-nettle


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 there's our growing house... parked by a patch of nettles. Tui is building a roof-rack for bikes and other things (including sitting on summer nights), and a foresty ladder to get up there! Now as he climbs he has to dodge bees, because they too have decided that a house on wheels is the best of all places to live.



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...

51 comments:

Wanda said...

Beautiful Post and Life!

Kathleen Coy said...

What gorgeous photos, thank you for sharing them! Your nettle stir-fry looks delicious! I love nettles, I look forward to gathering them every Spring! For teas, soups, or even steamed with butter...I love the taste of their deep green goodness!
Thanks for the lovely post!
Hugs!

Night Owl said...

Beautiful photos, thanks for sharing :-)

28parkave said...

heaven....

andrea the pomegranates said...

i am in love with this post, brilliant!!

Kitty said...

Excellent post! I'll be coming back to read this one again, I think. Oddly timely, too - a package of flower and grasses identification books arrived for me today. But I may just add the Dictionary of Plant Lore to my library now, as well :)

Lunaea said...

Blissful sigh...

jumbleberryjam said...

What a delightful journey threw your beautiful, wild garden of life. Thank you :-)

Vicki's Bit-o-earth said...

Rima, I so look forward to reading your every post! You live a wonderful life, and the way you describe it, a magical gift. We take too much for granted on this small planet of ours, and your photos of wild flowers reminds me to keep note on my own bit of earth. In my garden, I don't spray anything, and only use environment friendly means of tending my garden ... what kills one little pest also kills by best friends and helpers. We earth tenders (and that's all of us really) must remember this. Thank you for this perfect post! BTW, the nettle dinner looks scrumptious!

yoborobo said...

Rima - Thank you for the wander in your neck of the woods. Such little beauties along your road! :)

The Clever Pup said...

A really super post. I'll have to look into refreshing my herb garden.

Thanks Rima

Leatherdykeuk said...

What a fabulous post.

I've never eaten nettles as greens - now I'll try them. Thank you.

From This Moment to That said...

Hi Rima, what a lovely post, and smashing pictures for us to all share. Your salad does look good, I knew you could eat nettles, but how is it that they don't sting you then?

Hugs
Jane

Heather said...

What a lovely walk - thankyou for sharing it with us. We used to call stitchwort 'Bachelors' Buttons' when I was a child and I think bluebells are the most wonderful blue. Your nettle stirfry looked delicious and I love the crow painting you did for Melanie. I hope you have recovered from your painting marathon and that the weather warms up a bit so you can enjoy some balmy evenings. I can't remember the last time I heard a cuckoo - why do I love to hear them, when I know what nasty habits they have?

nullalux said...

How lovely!

The Odd Bird said...

You, Tui, your art, your home and your life are all amazing....

anthromama said...

Lovely! I miss wildflowers...all I've seen here in Idaho so far are dandelions (which I love) and what I think are pinks. But I know there are flowers hiding in spots...perhaps just not yet...there's still snow in the tippy tops of the mountains...will have to find their hidey spots! Nettles would do us a treat right now, I think my whole family could use some spring tonic :-)

Valaine said...

Wonderful! :)

Mollamari said...

Oh so beautiful flowers and so beautifully written! You have full summer there and we are yet waiting for it... oh how I long for it and all charming wildflowers and my garden flowers...

Sarah said...

A lovely wander amongst the flowers. I have never known the name of that sticky stuff-cleavers is such an appropriate name.
Summer nights on top of your home sound like fun!

Amanda said...

When I first read your blog and considered what it would be like to live without a piece of land to call ones own, I thought, "Oh, what would I do without my garden?"

But look! You have the largest and most ancient garden of all. Food, medicine, art...all growing at your fingertips.

Amanda said...

p.s. What an intriging tea pot. Where can I get me one of those?

Carol Stocker said...

Hi Rima! Wouldn't it be fun to put a net canopy over the top of the house and sleep up there on hot summer nights? As always, thanks for sharing your journey. Hugs, Carol

Anonymous said...

Each night before I shuffle off to bed I find myself looking to your hermitage and the adventures, small and precious like mine, that you have had each day.
I spent the day in my wee garden looking for old friends popping up to tell me that they have made it through a long winter. I write you from the North Shore of Lake Superior in Canada.(About the exact middle of the country.) I want you to know that your great adventure is very generous of you to share. I once lived out of a backpack and then came the marriage,28 yrs and then 3 wonderful souls. My wee birds, of which 2 have flown to make nests of their own.
I was delighted with your walk today. There is no green here yet. Willow and dogwood are ready for cutting for baskets but joy a green thumb of rubarb poked up today so fresh and green. I had to give it a proper hello.
Yours Janet

Jessie Lilac said...

I love all these wonderful wild flowers and marvel that they still get a chance to grow everywhere. I'm not great at remembering the names of them but you've inspired me to try! I like nettle tea but have never eaten it as a vegetable...yet :)

Melanie said...

Hia Rima thanks for completing the painting while you were so busy. I hope you got a lot of sales from the exhibition. He does look beautiful and busy- so apt for the time of year. I think it is a shme that speedwell in such a beautiful blue is considered a weed. I sent a few photos from our weekend jaunt. You'd love the bluebell wood by Nuneham Courtney.

Karen said...

What a beautiful post! :)
Our native wild flowers are so delicate and pretty.And isn't all the folklore around them wonderful.
I try to encourage wild plants into my garden and leave lots alone, including cow parsley, and herb robert I'm desperate to have some ribes/wild garlic, and wood anenomes.

Have fun collecting natures larder.
x

John Winchurch said...

Splendid post celebrating the most beautiful time of the year here in Britain.
I too am delighting in the bluebells, campion, cow parsley and so many others that fill the hedgerows here in Cornwall.
Nettles ( live - not dead ) for tea.

3ster said...

Fantastic way of life, Rima! I love your creativity and thoughts both. :D

giftsofthejourney said...

What a great post! ...seeing these images connected me to what I now think of as my home. I wrote about you on my post today and included a link. I hope that's okay.

I loved learning more about the flowers and prickly things that grow along the wayside of our world.

Lisa said...

Hi Rima,

Maria Tatar's books may be of interest to you? http://people.fas.harvard.edu/~tatar/Maria_Tatar/Publications.html

Maggie said...

Your blog is lovely. It takes me out of my metropolitan life, if only for a few moments.

I love that bees have found your rolling house--a swarm of bees is a blessing--but if they're building a hive there, find a beekeeper to take them home. Bees love permanence and home.

Anonymous said...

Try picking nettel w/o gloves. It really only stings for the first little while. If you pick the top leaves & buds carefully (as you should) they don't sting much at all.

Anonymous said...

PS
here's some British foraging info
http://www.judyofthewoods.net/index.html;

Jericho said...

have you ever see a flower called forget-me-not? it's a very beautiful flower!

Barry said...

What a great camera and what a great eye you have. Those photos are excellent and as beautiful as the flowers you captured.

Julie Bouésso said...

Nettles in food!? New to me, but HAVE to copy!!! Sitting & seating for the roof top? Grandios idea! Cheers, Julie

Emily said...

Baby nettles! Nice! Although I must say I've never seen them so beautifully prepared! I also wanted to mention I just loved the artist in a tree photo further down! Delight!

vchelle said...

Intriguing! Stopped by from Gifts of the Journey and wanted to say hi! Love the words, photos and your presentation of life!

Rebecca said...

mmm, we've got some nettle beer brewing at the moment!

Lovely pictures - wildflowers are so delightful!

xxx

Mokihana and Pete said...

Hello Wheelie Folk!

From The Ledge in the Woods I appreciate the common thread we snatch at ... the flowers are opening here too, in the Olympic high mountains and the pollens have calmed enough for me to take my panther of a kit on trail therapy again.

Your growing wheelie home must be inherit to the Genes of Wheeldom for we too find additions necessary to embrace the living to its full.

10 feet is a very wee home, so the fairy gypsy clan must give us lessons every day.

Nice to see you on the page, nice to be able to get to the page (smile)

Aloha! Mokihana

Ciara said...

Gorgeous post Rima. Thank you for a lovely wander among the meadows!
I just love this time of year!

Cathy said...

I love seeing all the wild flowers coming through right now - what a joy to discover your blog Rima, thank you for finding me and leaving a comment on mine:) I hope to visit again often, best wishes Cathy

Tammie Lee said...

lovely post! You have many wildflowers that we have, but ours are not growing quite yet! Soon....

coloradocelt said...

Uhm, can you post the recipe for what you were making with the Nettle? It looks delicious!!!

d. moll, l.ac. said...

Hi, Rima, thanks for popping by! My, you have a lot of admirers here in your blog. Enjoyed your herby post. Nettles are so yummy and nutritious. Cheers!

Happily Ever After said...

Thanks for the pictures and names to many old friends and new friends (known to others as weeds).

Jo

femminismo said...

Goosegrass! Thanks for naming this plant for me. We have it in Oregon, too. I'll bet it sticks to the pant legs or skirt and gives away lovers with that clue! Am I guessing correctly? So glad to see someone likes nettles! Not me, but then we've never cooked them, either. - Jeanne

BT said...

What a beautiful post, Rima. I loved it all. I don't think I'd like the bees though, have they moved in??

MsMarmitelover said...

Beautiful...

Joel Le Blanc said...

Hi Rima,

As a Herbalist in New Zealand we still use quite a few of the plants that you photographed each day in dispensaries. Chickweed, Cleavers, Nettle, Dandelion, White-dead-nettle and Ground Ivy are such gifts. To see them on the road side, in the fields, growing wild is such a wonderful blessing from the earth.