I have just been on my after-lunch walk with Tess - down the lane as usual - and I must say it is looking spectacularly lovely. Fringed with a positive froth of my favourite cow-parsley, and in the deep grass beds of buttercups softly glowing in the sunshine (yes - it is shining today), pink campion standing tall in front of a bank of pretty ferns, the leaves and buds of meadow-sweet promising a feast of cream in a week or two. Sometimes 'Nature's Garden' puts on a splendid show, doesn't it?
A vicar once leaned over the hedge and looked into a woman's garden - it was perfection. He called to congratulate the woman who was weeding - 'Isn't it wonderful what God can do in the garden?' 'Ha!' said the gardener. 'You should have seen what it was like when it was left to just God doing it!'
Because, yes, we do like to be in control of our gardens. It is always a temptation to leave buttercups for me. I do love them - and if you call them by their 'proper' name - ranunculus - they don't sound quite so invasive. But invasive they are and that is probably why we call many of our indigenous plants 'weeds'. I have a patch of Trollius (globe flower) - see the photo above - and it is lovely but it doesn't have the depth of yellow of its cousin, the buttercup.
But this week a 'new' weed has arrived. Well, it did pay us a visit a couple of years ago -but this time it has arrived with a vengeance - and it has brought back childhood memories for me.
Many posts ago I showed you our growing manure heap (yes - I am mentioning manure again - )
well, now it has been cleared and spread with the mighty spreader - and where it has been there was a bald patch. Before we went on holiday the farmer sewed it liberally with grass seed. hoping that by the time we returned it would have filled in. No rain while we were away- so no such luck.
At last tiny grass blades are pushing through - and tiny rabbits in their warren not ten yards away in the hedge-bottom, adore new grass shoots (think tiny, tender lettuce leaves for us).
But something else has colonised the bare patch. Goosefoot.
It's 'real' name is Good King Henry - although the name comes from the German Guter Heinrich, and we added the 'King' bit when it meandered over here. The sixteenth century herbalist, John Gerard, said the plant grew in 'untilled places'. Other sources say it is the scourge of manure heaps - so no surprise there then.
But what is surprising is that I recognise it because we had a cultivated patch of it in our veggie garden when I was a small child in Lincolnshire. Remember this is well before the days when veg were flown in out of season - the days when if you lived in the country you ate what was available in your garden. You didn't go buying fancy vegetables!
My mother called it 'markary' - I am guessing at the spelling here - and we ate it as you would eat spinach. Father kept cutting it and bringing it in to eat and it would quickly grow up again.
He often called it 'poor man's asparagus' although I think that was pushing it a bit.
Reading about it in one of my 'flower' books I find it was commonly eaten in olden times (yes, I know I am getting on a bit but that is going too far). The books says it has been replaced by a cultivated form of spinach. But then , reading on, I find that there is a similar plant called Common Orache which the book says was eaten ' until fairly recently'.
So it seems we have a patch of vegetables in one of our silage meadows - so come on rabbits, get it eaten off before the silage men come in - otherwise it will be left for the cows to eat over winter. I shall be interested to see if anyone remembers eating this stuff or whether it was confined to the wilds of the Lincolnshire Fens.