4 a cross

Crosswort (or Honeywort)
Crosswort (or Honeywort)

If you look at the picture closely you’ll notice that the leaves are arranged, four at a time in a cross on the stem. Other people have noticed this too so it’s not too hard to guess why it’s called ‘Crosswort’. They say that it also has a pronounced honey smell (The Dog and I checked – and it does) and so its other name is Honeywort. It’s a member of the bedstraw family and when it has dried it smells of new mown hay – we haven’t checked this by the way, but this is most likely why it was used for stuffing mattresses.

The Dog and I can’t imagine that a straw mattress would be very comfortable for very long and neither of us is inclined to give up our comfortable beds to do a ‘live’ trial.

Not many people do the crosswort these days – it’s more sudoku isn’t it?

Of course you could always gather a bunch for your Honey – because she’s wort it.

A Hopeful Sign

Skiddaw - with a coat of gorse
Skiddaw – with a coat of gorse

It was clear and crisp this morning as The Dog and I set off for our morning constitutional, Scotland was dozing over on the other side of The Solway and Skiddaw was up early enjoying the sunshine. He’s taken to wearing his new shirt of golden gorse – and very smart he looks too.

Mrs Grieve (A Modern Herbal) says that cows give good milk if fed nothing but well bruised Furze (that’s his middle name) and that gorse is from the old Anglo-Saxon gorst  meaning ‘a wasteland’ referring to Gorse’s favourite habitat.

Dr. Edward Bach felt that the uplifting golden show that Gorse provides – once he gets into his stride – was all about bringing new hope into people’s lives. There’s definitely something bright and cheery about the way there’s always gorse in flower somewhere, even through the worst of the winter, and of course, now that spring is well and truly here, there’s gorse in flower everywhere.

Still, whether you’re looking for hope or for cattle fodder, don’t forget those thorns.

Shoes and Ships and Sealing Wax

Large White Butterfly
Large White Butterfly

A white butterfly without the dots on the wings is apparently OK. Looking at the pictures it would seem that butterflies cherish individuality. Good for them, but a little consideration would go a long way. It would make it so much easier if they would decide on a uniform and stick to it. It’s their own fault if we are reduced to calling them ‘Large White’ or ‘Cabbage White’.

The taking of this picture was a small triumph. The Dog is interested in butterflies and while I tip-toed along after it as it fluttered randomly around, trying to take a picture – The Dog practised her ‘stalking lion’ pose, hoping to do a pounce and kill on it. The butterfly appeared to be totally unaware of either of us and flitted from hedge, to grass, to flower, following its own inner urges. Being a bit of a butterfly really. It eventually sat still for long enough and far enough away from ‘The Stalking Dog’ for me to point and focus the camera.

By the way – no butterflies were harmed in the taking of this picture.

May Be

May Blossom
May Blossom

We are now past the middle of April so the May Blossom should be gearing up. Here’s a spray of incipient blossom still tightly closed up. Is it going to make it? Will May get here and there will be no May blossom? You can see the national headlines can’t you? “Another U Turn by Government means May Blossom misses May”. Actually, I can’t remember if Mrs May was elected or not last time. I don’t really keep up these days. The Dog remembers tearing that edition of the newspaper to shreds but she can’t recall the headlines exactly.

We’ve had some strong winds (again) recently and as we walk we’ve noticed a sprinkling of blackthorn blossom on the road, I hope those bees have managed to get round everybody, the blossom doesn’t seem to have been around for that long.

It must be a bit ticklish, mustn’t it, having bees clambering round your private parts? Particularly those bumblebees, they batter around like a bull in a china shop. Are the flowers a bit embarrassed by it all do you think, or do they ‘Lie back and think of England’?

Cherry Picking

Wild Cherry
Wild Cherry

The next flowering tree has suddenly sprung among us. I think it’s a Wild Cherry, the trouble is that so many trees have those little white flowers it’s hard to be sure.

In October I found what I was sure was Crab Apple – the fruit were hard as nails and tasted really sour and ‘dry’ – I was sure I was going to be able to remember the position of the trees in the hedge row. Any time now the Crab Apple is supposed to come into flower. These flowers are on trees that are nowhere near where I thought I remembered the Crab Apples. So, are these really Crab Apple flowers – and I just remembered the hedge wrong, or are the Crab Apples just not in flower yet and these are something different? Like Wild Cherries?

The Woodland Trust website (see link above) notes that wild cherries are the preferred fruit when it comes to making Cherry Brandy – hmmm.

Pussy Willow Sunday

Pussy Willow
Pussy Willow

Still no sign of any Blackthorn flowers. Come on you sloe coaches! We do have daffodils everywhere – standing around in crowds waiting for a wandering poet to notice them – and some very nice Pussy Willows doing their best to keep us entertained until the Blackthorn get here. The Woodland Trust, while offering us a list of alternative names – Sallow, Great Sallow, Goat Willow and more, also mentions that the branches are often used as a replacement for palm branches in church on Palm Sunday (elsewhere on Google – Palm Sunday is sometimes known as Willow Sunday because of this). There is also the suggestion (don’t try this at home kids) that girls who don’t wear a sprig of Pussy Willow to church on Palm Sunday should have their hair pulled.

OK as long as Easter is early, I suppose.