Tag Archives: Cuckoo Flower

Feeling The Heat

The purpose of our “Selfies” is to try and capture the feel of the day. These are from December… Great long shadows and it is cold and windy.

Selfie

SelfieNow this is April…

SelfieHer mud is drying up.

MudThese are my holiday snaps and I have been on holiday for a long time.

There may be trouble ahead….


I wouldn’t like to be that Rat when Fizz the Great War Dog gets a’hold of him.


She just needs to practice a bit, she is warming up.

Oh yes, I have bought the Goldfinches a nyger seed feeder.

Nyger feederThey are loving it and empty it very quickly. I will do more about that in another post.

On the subject of birds. The Bullfinches have stopped using the feeders but they are still around. We have an Apple orchard at the bottom of the garden and I think that they are drawn to the buds there.

Disappointingly the Long -tailed Tits have gone. Like the finches I think that their comings and goings are related to the natural food supply but I don’t know what has drawn them away.

The little Robin never came back. There are still lots of Robins about and sometimes I look out of my door and shout, “Come on! One of you must be Christopher.” No, he has gone.

But all of that fades into absolute insignificance because when I opened my door yesterday I heard a song that filled my heart.

Barn SwallowNow I know what they say, that “One Swallow does not a summer make,” ¬†but that is rubbish, it is summertime now ūüôā

There is something that I have got to do this year. Swallows pair up for life, each autumn when they leave they separate and then in the early summer when they return they reunite. It is something to witness and I have got to video it this year. They are so excited to be reunited, like little puppies and it doesn’t last for that long but for a little while there is a great video waiting to be made.

Barn SwallowI am going to love hearing their song again.

The little Mud Eaters beat the Swallows back by several days.

House MartinI didn’t really do the House Martins justice last year, they don’t nest outside of my front door like the Swallows but I will try harder this time around. I love their little feathered feet.

I like a little heat.

SelfieWildflowers then, there is so much going on that I don’t know where to start.

Walking along the country paths it just looks like a mess of green…

MessUnless you know it.

Cow ParsleyThis little leaf is the Cow Parsley and in a few weeks it will be painting the most beautiful pictures.

Cow ParsleyThat reminds me of another April challenge. The St. Mark’s Fly.

St Mark's FlySo called because the adult flies emerge around April the twenty fifth (St. Mark’s Day), these are the ones with long dangly legs that trail behind them when they fly.

St Mark's FlyThe challenge is to photograph the female, I just could not find one last year. They only live for a couple of weeks and the window of opportunity is a small one.

But back to the present, this leaf is the Hogweed.

HogweedForget any misconceptions that the name might suggest, this one is a very beautiful flower.

HogweedAlso the large, saucer like, flower heads are an absolute magnet for insects. I am finding my first flowers now and it will be here until the very end of Autumn.

I have got to leave the wildflowers for a bit because I have got to take Fizz for a walk, I will come back to them. While we are out I am going to upload some wild animal videos for you to watch.


These are female Fallow Deer (Dama dama) They are just losing their winter coats and so they look a little bit tatty but they are healthy animals.


This week the trail camera returned 180 videos over two days and nights. 136 of those were of my little friend the Fox but I also got 44 clips of the deer in the daytime, a nice return.

This is the same spot that I videoed the Boar in last week and it is proving to be a good place to set the camera. As well as the Deer, Fox and Boar I have been getting clips of Badgers, nothing exceptional but it is good to know that they are there. I feel happier if I can say that I am putting the camera out to film Deer, they are hunted just the same as the Boar but there isn’t the same hysteria and people are much more likely to go into the forest to look for Deer.

This location is not in the Forest of Dean, it is woodland some way outside of the forest boundaries and the Boar here are the animals that the Forestry Commission have been kind enough to drive out of the forest as they attempt to disperse them across the whole county, or country even.


A few other things that are good about this location, apart from the fact that it is rich in wild life, It is an unmanaged Sweet Chestnut coppice, I wouldn’t normally like that because there is very little else that grows in such a coppice but it does give me quite good views of the animals. This is also a Bluebell wood and that will make a nice backdrop and nobody comes here. I have filmed a lot here and have never picked up Dog walkers or anybody at all, that makes me feel quite safe about leaving the camera out. I will continue to film here for a few more weeks.

Okay I am back and Poochy has been walked. It is quite blustery out there today.

Back to the wildflowers. I like them because they are beautiful…

Ivy-leaved Speedwell(Ivy-leaved Speedwell)

Ivy-leaved SpeedwellFizz likes them because they make a nice soft bed.

Fizz in BedGet off the bed!

I am very pleased that I got pictures of the Town Hall Clock buds last week because this week there were no buds to be found.

Town Hall ClockAnother flower that has just appeared…..

Remember the diminutive Harry Bittercress (Cardamine hirsuta)?

Hairy BittercressThis is the girl of his dreams, Lady Smock and if you think, like Harry that she looks good enough to eat, well, she is.

Cuckoo FlowerCuckoo Flower or Lady’s Smock (Cardamine pratensis). The leaves and flowers are the best bits to eat, they ¬†have a peppery flavour that adds a lot to a herb salad.

Cuckoo FlowerBoth she and Harry are Cardamines and they can cross pollinate but  will she, wont she? That is what Harry would like to know.

Cuckoo FlowerA couple more “firsts” for the week, this little splash of pink is Herb Robert.

Herb RobertLast year I was able to find this one in flower throughout the winter but this year, this is my first.

Herb RobertI have also seen my first signs of the spathe of the Arum Lily.

Wild ArumThere will be much more of these flowers in the weeks to come.

Well it has been a long post and you must be feeling pretty tired.

Tired FizzI have just got one more wildflower to do today and then we can play ball.

FizzThis is Hen-bit Dead-nettle. I found it growing on my steps when I got home.

Hen-bit Dead-nettle

Hen-bit Dead-nettle

Hen-bit Dead-nettle

Hen-bit Dead-nettle

Hen-bit Dead-nettle

Hen-bit Dead-nettleI will try and find it in more picturesque surroundings.

Goodnight Fizz.

Selfie

 

Salad Pinks

Lady’s Smock is in flower. At first I only found one little flower hiding in a ditch.

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It wasn’t long before I was finding them in drifts.

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So this is a post about foraging for food in country lanes and more specifically it is about foraging for Lady’s Smock (Cardamine pratensis).

It is okay to pick flowers for the table, there is even a code of practice laid out for would be foragers by the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland.

Code of Conduct (Wild Flowers)

It basically says to be sensible, only take them when they are plentiful, only take a few, leave things looking as you found them.

You can’t uproot flowers and take them home with you.

Before we can forage for anything we have to be able to identify it. There are lots of poisonous plants and my approach has always been to make sure that I know what I am picking, I am not one for trying things out that I am not sure about. This flower is pretty easy to identify.

It is about eighteen inches tall with a head of small pink flowers.

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Each flower has four, pale pink/lilac petals

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The leaflets are long and narrow and they look like this.

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Lady’s Smock is also called Cuckoo ¬†Flower. It flowers from April until late June.

In folk lore Lady’s Smock is often associated with adders, for instance picking it is said to attract adders or that if you pick it you will be bitten by an adder. Such lore makes perfect sense, The flower’s habitat is perfect for adders and it flowers during the adders breeding season (Late April/early May) a time when¬†these snakes are most easy to approach and most often seen because they are not so wary of people, they are focussed on the breeding.

The plant has a long history of medicinal use. It was once a very popular treatment for epilepsy at a time when epilepsy was regarded as a form of madness and cures were broadly based on the magical qualities of the plant. More sensibly it was seen as a good cure for scurvy and it probably was, it is very high in vitamin C, which is an excellent reason for putting it in your salad.

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Okay Lady’s Smock is just a flavour, it is not the main course, it has a peppery flavour. I have heard it likened to Radish with a bit of a hot kick but I would say more like Rocket. I like it very much.

I have also collected Wild Garlic (Allium ursinum), Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata) and Primrose (Primula vulgaris). I will write about them in other posts. It all makes for a nice little salad dish and it is all free. I hate buying and throwing out bags of salad when it is growing just down the lane.

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Now I just have to jazz that up a little bit.

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Every part of the Lady’s Smock is edible. I have left out the stems because I find them stringy but you can eat them. The ¬†flowers are delicious.

I am having my salad with a roast chicken as I did this yesterday (Sunday) and I am serving it with mango sauce (Chicken gravy with a couple of spoonfuls of mango chutney stirred in) and roast potatoes.

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Well that was yesterday and that has been eaten, it was the best Sunday roast ever. Fortunately I had a bag of leaves left over.

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As I write this I am enjoying black coffee and a cold chicken sandwich with sweet pepper and weeds and it is the best sandwich that I have ever had in my life.

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Until next time.