We wake up to sunshine so Gracie and I take a basket each and head out into the paddock. These days the paddock is regularly mown to keep the nettles and brambles at bay but Ed has left some well chosen places untouched; along the fence line, under the 2 huge sycamores and on the bank that leads up to the bee hives. In the shade and among the long grass, wild flowers now grow. It’s a very pretty sight in the early morning sun and when Gracie starts chasing butterflies I’ve a mind to start laughing out loud.
Our plan is to collect flowers for the white room as our friend Anna is coming to stay.
I’ve a little knowledge of the names of wild flowers that comes from meandering summer walks with my mother when I was about Gracie’s age. An Observer’s pocket book in hand, she’d seek out quiet country lanes with vast overgrown verges and shady banks running down to the river. Anything she couldn’t identify we’d take home – just the one and as long as there were plenty. I’ve a memory she impressed on me that we should never pick primroses – but she knew where to take me to see them and I can still remember the delight of each new discovery.
Gracie too gasps with delight at each new patch of flowers in the paddock. We collect red campion, pignut, germander speedwell (my mother called this Bird’s Eyes), tall buttercups and the last of the bluebells. Of course we don’t know the names of everything so back at the house we turn to the books. I think the buttercups are bulbous crowfoot and we quickly identify the the common bugle but one delicate lilac flower that grows here in abundance eludes us for several days. Ed eventually assists and it’s the leaves that clinch it as they taste like beetroot – it’s pink purslane.
It turns out we have the perfect climate here – it’s native to Siberia – but the recent memory of cold, dreich Scottish days is readily forgotten on a day like this.