Sunday 4 May 2008



Yellow Archangel; when I was young and first learning the joys of plant identification from an Observer pocket book of wild flowers the Yellow Archangel - Lamiastrum galeobdolon - represented something so exotic and rare that I longed to find one. I never did, not sure whether I was in the wrong locations for them or just unobservant but it was wonderful yesterday to find a couple of clumps hiding in the protective shelter of the stinging nettles while I was mowing. The plant has been used for garden ornament and ground cover and there are several cultivars some of which have escaped into the wild but I'm reasonably certain my plants are the real thing, as wild as the day they were born. Another box in my life's work ticked!

The year is rolling on again and today I picked the leaves for the Beech Leaf Noyau. When I'd made it last year, I wasn't terribly impressed, it was mellow and easy to drink but lacked any real character I thought. Despite that, over the year (and we finished the last drop just a couple of weeks ago) it's kind of grown on me and Paul thinks it's delicious so this year I'm making double quantities. Just to have enough to share with friends obviously, it's not our habit taking over!

Lilacs are not my favourite shrubs although the scent is lovely and the blossoms attractive, for the rest of the year they are simply boring and I think they are a waste of space in most gardens. The French beg to differ and we have at least three lilac bushes scattered around the various buildings' gardens.

An old wives' tale that I had never heard until recently is that lilac should never be brought into the house or disaster will follow. This is, apparently, connected to the old habit of laying out the dead at home before the funeral. The strong perfume was supposed to mask the smell of decay and has become associated with death and sadness. May blossom, also in abundant bloom at the moment has the same restriction although in its case the perfume itself is supposed to carry some of the odours of putrescence and so be harmful to the harmony of the household.


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