A very late spring has collided with summer in an explosion of growth and blossom in the hedgerows, meadows, bogs, woodlands and derelict sites. Basking in warm sunshine, the flowers and foliage, like ourselves, are unfurling to embrace the much welcomed light and heat. Just stop and take some time to admire the magnificence of it all. Observe and listen to the buzz of life that is everywhere in June
Look closely in the wild flower meadow and you might be rewarded with the sight of wild orchids which are becoming very rare. The purples of orchid, clover and foxglove that line the hedges compliment the twinkling yellow of buttercups. A succession of blooming whitethorn, ash and elderflower draws our attention to the hedgerows and fields; everything is in flower.
It is a time to notice the mysterious ways of nature and marvel at the peculiar sites a wild seed will find to colonize; why does the pink valerian choose the narrow ridge atop a high wall? Perhaps for the same reason the majestic mullein has flourished in the large polytunnel; they thrive because they haven’t been ‘weeded’ out.
The whole subject of weeds is brilliantly addressed by Richard Mabey in his 2010 book, simply titled Weeds. It is an enlightening and entertaining read on the subject which examines our attitude to the “disreputable plants”, the plants “which sabotage human plans”. If we define a weed as a plant in the wrong place, Mabey questions the notion of a right place and brings us on a fascinating journey through a cultural history of the plants we have deemed to be unworthy.
Of course we have to harness the growth of vegetation, either to cultivate food or just to create a living space but it is important to remember thevalue of the native wild plants that are presently displaying their stunning beauty in the landscape. It is quite absurd to see how a certain form of gardening has become an industry of weed killing ; what pains and expense must be given up for a flawless (weed free) lawn? A small area that is spared the seasonal manicure will attract bees, birds and diverse wildlife. The sights , sounds and smells of summer are a tonic for the soul. We need to save what is left.
This week we have harvested some frilly white elderflowers to process for cordial and wine. They look and smell particularly good this year after a spell of warm sunny weather. This will hopefully reward us later and remind us of the bounty that exists in a hedgerow that hasn’t been sacrificed for a concrete wall or fence.