Laidees and Gentle Men. Today for your edification we have the Cuckooflower, but don’t be deceived it isn’t as simple as it seems. OK. Enough. It does seem to be a silly name but ‘Once upon a time’ – probably in the ‘Middle Ages’ – someone, somewhere thought that the plant flowered just when you heard the first Cuckoo.
Times change, the tide turns and Global Warming makes this part of the world too cold and damp for birds as finicky as the cuckoo. They seldom bother with Britain these days. They are doubtless too busy refurbishing the stone farmhouse they bought on the ‘cheep’, ripe for renovation, in the south of France. Still, those of us who aren’t blackbirds, remember them fondly.
To avoid the poor flower becoming the butt of bullying, we ought, perhaps, refer to it by one of its other names, how about Lady’s Smock. As far as Google knows there is no connection between lady’s smocks and the first call of the cuckoo. Perhaps, in those first warm days of spring, it was the practice of the time to give your clothing a good wash and spread the washed garments out over the hedges to dry in the sun.
It is supposed to be edible, in fact one of its names is Bittercress, and naturally, it is full of vitamin C. It is also the favourite flower of the fairies and it is bad luck to pick it during May, so tasting will have to wait until next month.
You can’t be too careful.