The na­ture of things

Two ‘lady’ flow­ers

Country Life Every Week - - Town & Country Notebook - Edited by

BUT­TER­FLIES are at large now in the un­cut hay meadow, with plenty of flow­ers to feed on. As well as the colour­ful knap­weeds and vetches, there are swathes of bright-yel­low Gal­ium verum, pop­u­larly known as Our Lady’s bed­straw, or just lady’s bed­straw ( pic­tured, cen­tre and right). A me­dieval legend was broad­cast that St Mary the Vir­gin had lain on a mat of the fra­grant dried flow­ers when the baby Je­sus was born in the sta­ble, giv­ing rise to the be­lief that child­birth would be eased for women giv­ing birth on a sim­i­larly herby mat­tress.

The tiny yel­low flow­ers, held aloft in so­cia­ble bunches, yield a sweet, hay scent; herbal­ists of yore found var­i­ous uses for it, from uri­nary trou­bles to gout. Gerard noted its use in ren­net by cheese­mak­ers, ‘the peo­ple of Cheshire, es­pe­cially about Namptwich… es­teem­ing greatly of that cheese above other made with­out it’. Miller sug­gested it for a foot bath, ‘very re­fresh­ing to wash the feet of per­sons tired with over­walk­ing’.

An­other lovely ‘lady’ flower of the meadow is the field scabi­ous, or lady’s pin­cush­ion, Knau­tia ar­ven­sis (pic­tured, left). Its nec­tar-rich, lilac blooms are for­aged all summer by nu­mer­ous but­ter­flies, in­clud­ing cop­pers, meadow browns, pea­cocks and mar­bled white. Some 50 in­di­vid­ual flow­ers make up the pin­cush­ion head that re­wards closer ex­am­i­na­tion. KBH

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.