Thursday, 18 May 2017

Life in amongst the hedgerows


These warm balmy spring days have encouraged me to abandon the stifling heat of the studio and venture off into my local park to gather the latest batch of blooms slowly emerging through the undergrowth. It also felt necessary to wear some flowers around my neck for the ensuing task ahead, so I wore my own daisy necklace ; the perfect accessory for the day.

During my walks I love to scan for colour and curious finds. Today it marked the turn of a firm favourite of mine; Germander Speedwell, in Latin; 'Veronica chamaedrys', or commonly known as Birds Eye Speedwell. This elegant bonny blue wildflower makes its debut from May to July. Although it is often viewed as an irksome weed by gardeners, to me it signals the coming of summer, and its tiny intricate petals and slender stems have such an ethereal beauty to them that truly justifies some adoration.  


The Common Speedwell
...Thou art a jewel on the brow of May,
That, robed in scented garments, wings her way!
Emblem of Friendship rarest gem of blue
From me thou ever hast affection true!
-James Rigg


I made myself busy in the afternoon by pressing handfuls of the speedwell, and filled up quite a few pages in my flower press. They were also accompanied by the ubiquitous Herb Robert or 'Geranium Robertianum', which adds a delightful pop of pink to the Irish hedgerows throughout spring and summer. I was joined on my expedition by a rotund fluffy bumble bee who was buzzing through the vibrant fuchsia, almost getting stuck in one or two of the trumpet-like blooms. Her little legs poking out from beneath a skirt of magenta petals was a magic moment I was fortunate to capture. 

Later, I discovered some beautiful posies of Hawthorn flowers, subtly blushed with pink. The Hawthorn is synonymous with Irish folklore, viewed as bringing good luck to the owner and prosperity to the land on where it stands. Therefore, if it is chopped down and plundered for its wood, great misfortune beckons on the horizon. According to local myths, this activity unsettles the faerie folk who use the Hawthorn tree as a place of gathering. A curse is then bestowed upon the culprit who carries out the deed:  

Hawthorn
'Beware, beware the hawthorn,
Lest it strike you down,
For if you take an axe to it
You'll rue that you were born.'
-Giles Watson

Even to this day, entrenched superstitions associated with these trees run deep in rural Irish communities, and a lot of farmers would avoid cutting down a Hawthorn tree, even if it may be an obstruction in a field. So, I will continue the tradition and avoid the bark. Instead, I pick just a few of the flowers as these will eventually turn into berries, which are a vital source of food for birds and other hedgerow creatures later on in the year.

Next time you're out, take a little peak at the hedgerows and you'll discover a fascinating and bustling microcosm living in amongst it.












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