Saturday, 2 April 2016

A-Z Challenge 2016 Wild Flowers 'B'

My theme this year is wild flowers. Most of us will be aware of the flowers that grow in our gardens but what surprises me is how few of the wild flowers that I know.

I pass them every day but rarely look at them. Well this year will be different - even if many of them may fall under the letter 'X' for unknown.

'B' - Blackthorn, Buttercup, Bluebell

In April each year there is a tree or bush whose flowers tell us that spring has arrived.

Blackthorn in flower
The blackthorn flowers appear before the leaves and are hermaphrodites, providing early nectar for the birds and insects that fertilise them.

Blackthorn (Latin name: prunus spinosa) was long associated with witchcraft. Witches wands and staffs were said to be made of blackthorn wood.

Later in the year you see people collecting their fruit.

Blackthorn fruit - sloes
Many know the blackthorn by the name of its fruit which can be used for preserves and commonly for flavouring gin.

     "The blackthorn hung with clinging sloes
       Blue-veiled in weather becoming cold,"

A field of yellow is one of the most beautiful sights in the English countryside.

A field of yellow meadow buttercups
How many of you as children had a buttercup held under your chin and being told the yellow reflection it showed meant that you liked butter.

Meadow buttercups
On May Day, the Irish used to run buttercups on the udders of their cows - supposedly to encourage milk production. It's also said that buttercups give a brighter yellow butter.

Some folklore believed yellow to be an evil colour and hence gives the plant an evil side. Indeed the plant is poisonous and contains protoanemonin which is volatile and can be given off when handling the plant causing possible eye and nasal irritation.Ingestion produces inflammation of the mouth and abdominal pain.

Another type of buttercup is one that invades many garden.

Creeping buttercup
It spreads, as the name implies,  by  sending out long runners on the ground. To gardeners it just a weed.

Although familiar with another spring flower for a long time, it was only last year that I discovered some in a local wood.

Bluebell patch
I shall have to pay more attention to them this year to determine whether they are the English or the invasive Spanish variety.

Its bulbs and stems were once used to make a form of glue for book binding and for fixing arrow flights

By accident I discovered a delightful poem by Anne Bronte. I hope you have the time to listen to it.

  • From Wilderness - Edmund Blundell (1896 - 1974)
  • Video: A bluebell - Anne Bronte 


Emma Major said...

I love buttercups, they just make me think of being a child. And nothing can beat a field or wood of bluebells. Lovely. #AtoZChallenge

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Bob - what a great find of Anne Bronte's Bluebell poem .. isn't it lovely. A friend and I were going to the Bluebell wood this week - but they don't open til the following week -so we'll replan. When I was growing up we had bluebells in our spinney ... and those lanes - had them in Surrey too ... but now?! Wonderful photos and memory B for banks! Cheers Hilary

Wendy said...

The blackthorn reminds me of spirea. I went Googling to see if they are the same and did find something called "Blackthorn Spirea." But I'm not a botanist (nor do I play one on TV), so I can't tell for sure. The fruit throws me off because I've never seen that on a spirea. The buttercup is quite familiar as I have lots of memories of checking everyone to see if they liked butter.
Jollett Etc.

Suzanne Sapsed said...

I just love bluebells, and your topic! :)
Suzanne from
Suzannes Tribe

djinnia said...

Wow! I love flower meadows. I don't have them at home. I would have to plant them myself.

Those pics are stunning. I want to just stand and gaze at them. Sigh.

Jo said...

I was going to mention missing bluebell woods yesterday but thought I wouldn't steal your thunder. I never knew buttercups were poisonous. Used to drink sloe gin. There used to be a drink we were introduced to in Cornwall which was called a Long Pedlar combining Sloe gin and Bitter Lemon - had to google that to remember what the mix was. Drank that for a few years.

Bill Nicholls said...

Great post today Bob, I never realised Blackthorn gave sloes but I do remember Mum collecting them And making sloe gin.

Stepheny Houghtlin said...

Visiting on the 2nd day of the #Challenge. You have made a gardeners heart happy. I want to FOLLOW you but prefer to do so with e-mail notifications. Otherwise I never get around to checking what has been posted. Can you help me with this? Have I missed the place to sign up that way? When not gardening, I'm writing and reading. April is going to be crazy for all of us. If you have time between finding wildflowers and have an interest in hotels and inns, come and join me. Do let me know about this follow-thing.

Kristin said...

We used to do that trick with dandelions reflecting under the chin.


Finding Eliza

Sue McPeak said...

What a wonderful Bronte poem...thanks for sharing...enjoyed the lovely English voice of the reader. Also enjoyed the descriptions and folklore of the Buttercup, Bluebell and Blackthorn. This time of year here in Texas, our fields are filled with buttercups in yellow and pink. We do have bluebells, but the Texas State Flower, the Bluebonnet outshines them all. Lovely photos!
Sue at CollectInTexas Gal

Bob Scotney said...

Stepheny - suggest you just follow me on G+ or join the site by Goggle Friend Connect at the right of the blog.

Thanks for visiting me.

Bish Denham said...

What a lovely bittersweet poem. Beautiful flowers all.