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The Urban Diary of a Neo-Elizabethan Lady

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(Smell the Flowers)

March 2006 [08 Jul 2006|02:14am]

[ mood | accomplished ]

Finally! A write-up of some of the months of flower-spotting!

March 2006Collapse )

(Smell the Flowers)

April Weatherlore [07 Jul 2006|11:53pm]

Month Date Flower
April2White Violet
April4Crown Imperial
April7Anemone (Wood)
April8Ground Ivy
April9 Polyanthus (Red)
April12Saxifrage (Great)
April13Narcissus (Green)
April16Yellow Tulip

January's Weatherlore Entry
February's Weatherlore Entry
March's Weatherlore Entry

(2 Flowers Smelled |Smell the Flowers)

Henbane - Write Up [14 Jun 2006|06:39pm]

[ mood | amused ]

Heh, this stuff is scary. Not because it's quite poisonous (it is), but because it's one of the uglier plants around.

But because I've got some good pics that we took last year up in Lincolnshire, here is a write-up.

HenbaneCollapse )

(2 Flowers Smelled |Smell the Flowers)

Hawthorn [05 Jun 2006|06:09pm]

[ mood | busy ]

In honour of the passing of May, and the blooming of the May, here's something I wrote last year. I've finally started transcribing my diary from the last couple of months, so I'll start populating the rest of the journal soon.

Hawthorn (Crataegus oxyacantha)

Common Names: May, Mayblossom, Quick Thorn, Whitethorn, Haw, Hazels, Gazels, Halves, Hagthorn, Ladies' Meat, Bread and Cheese Tree.

The Hawthorn is a small tree and can grow to 30 feet in height. The leaves are oval, green and many lobed, appearing in early April. The flowers arrive in late April to early May and is widely known as the quintessential indicator of May arriving. The flowers are small and white, very similar to the crab-apple which is closely allied. The fruit is small and bright red, and although it is edible, does not taste very much.

The name “hawthorn” and “hagthorn” both refer to the popularity of hawthorn in hedges, the latter from the Old German “Hagedorn”. The generic name Crataegus means hardness and refers to the hardness of the wood, used in making small ornamental pieces as the wood is very fine-grained and takes a beautiful polish.

The wood is also an excellent fuel, making the hottest wood-fire known. Charcoal made from Hawthorn has been known to melt pig iron without the aid of a blast.

Many country villagers believe that Hawthorn flowers still bear the smell of the Great Plague of London. The tree was formerly regarded as sacred, probably from a tradition that it furnished the Crown of Thorns.

(Smell the Flowers)

March Weatherlore [03 Mar 2006|08:59pm]

[ mood | busy ]

Well, the third month from:

“Weather Lore - A Collection of Proverbs, Sayings & Rules Concerning the Weather”

Compiled & Arranged by Richard Inwards FRAS. Published by Pryor Publications 1999, First published by Elliot Stock “around 1893”.

List of Common Plants

And the dates at which they ought to be in full flower. The forwardness of the seasons may be judged by the punctuality of the appearance of the blossoms.

Month Date Flower
March 1 Leek
March 4 Chickweed
March 5 Hellebore
March 6 Lent Lily
March 7 Early Daffodil
March 8 Great Jonquill
March 13 Heartsease
March 15 Coltsfoot
March 17 Shamrock
March 24 Saxifrage
March 25 Marigold
March 29 Oxlip
March 30 Cardamine
March 30 Lesser Daffodil

January's Weatherlore Entry
February's Weatherlore Entry

(Smell the Flowers)

[24 Feb 2006|03:50pm]

[ mood | calm ]

Well, as much as it was damp and cold yesterday, I don't think you could call the mushy rain we got "snow". However today we definitely did have a flurry. It was more the snow equivalent of drizzle, very small particles and not too heavy, but it was definitely snow!


The weatherpixie says it's 3oC outside at the moment, with 15 knot winds from the North East. Which is bally cold, with a bally cold wind.

I think I'm staying in as long as possible!

The hydrangeas (Hydrangea macrophylla)are starting to come into flower down our road. I saw the first flower top today just peeking out with buds still tightly furled. The dead nettles (Lamium maculatum) outside the flats in the ornamental beds are a mass of silver and green leaves. Very slytherin!

(Smell the Flowers)

February [22 Feb 2006|08:55pm]

[ mood | awake ]

Better late than never, here is February’s write-up. I’m busy formatting and typing up March as I post so I won’t be as late with March’s. Hopefully.

February brings the rain; Thaws the frozen pond again.Collapse )

January’s Write-Up

(Smell the Flowers)

February's Weatherlore [22 Feb 2006|08:01pm]

Well, the second month from:

“Weather Lore - A Collection of Proverbs, Sayings & Rules Concerning the Weather”

Compiled & Arranged by Richard Inwards FRAS. Published by Pryor Publications 1999, First published by Elliot Stock “around 1893”.

List of Common Plants

And the dates at which they ought to be in full flower. The forwardness of the seasons may be judged by the punctuality of the appearance of the blossoms.

Month Date Flower
February 1 Bay
February 2 Snowdrop
February 5 Primrose
February 6 Blue Hyacinth
February 9 Narcissus
February 13 Polyanthus
February 14 Yellow Crocus
February 17 Scotch Crocus
February 19 Speedwell
February 21 White Crocus
February 22 Common Daisy
February 23 Apricot
February 25 Peach
February 26 Periwinkle (Lesser)
February 28 Purple Crocus

January's Weatherlore Entry

(Smell the Flowers)

Weather Analysis for January [21 Feb 2006|12:45pm]

[ mood | accomplished ]

Weather Data for January 2006 (from The Met Office Website)

Rainfall totals were well below average. England, Wales and Northern Ireland all had their driest January since 1997. Out of the last 15 months (since November 2004), 13 months have had below average rainfall across England SE & Central S. Mean temperatures close to average across the south of the UK, but well above average across the north of Scotland.

England SE & central South

Max Temp: 6.9oC (0.2oC higher than long term mean)
Min Temp: 1.9oC (0.9oC higher than long term mean)
Mean Temp: 4.4oC (0.6oC higher than long term mean)

Edith Holden remarked that January 1906 was milder than usual, winter aconite and snowdrops were in bloom by January 27th. This year we finally saw the two in bloom last week (around 14th February). It is probably fair to say that in plant terms, this January has been quite cold. If it hadn't been so dry we may have seen snow settle in Central London!

More interesting, Edith also was able to pick daisies on 29th January, so it is not so unusual to spot daisies in the middle of February.

I've found the most amazing record of mean temperatures for "Central England" going back to 1659. It makes amazing reading!!! Anyway, taking this year and the comparison year (1906), I can categorically state that the mean temperature for January 2006 (4.4oC) is 17% lower than 1906 (5.3oC).

Oh, I'm gonna have fun with that!


I know I've been amiss with updating the Holden extracts and the Weatherlore - it's something I'm going to put tomorrow...

(1 Flower Smelled |Smell the Flowers)

Snowdrops and Winter Aconite [20 Feb 2006|12:49pm]

Went on a little adventure yesterday to Hedingham Castle near Colchester, Essex where they have a Snowdrop fest at the weekends during the winter months.

Saw some of my first snowdrops this year with an added bonus! Winter Aconite which I've never seen before!

Pictures here!Collapse )

(Smell the Flowers)

Winter Aconite (Flower Write-Up) [20 Feb 2006|06:50pm]

[ mood | busy ]

Winter Aconite, (Aeranthis hyemalis)

Synonyms: Helleborus hyemalism, Winterling (German).

The Winter Aconite is one of the first flowers to bloom in the Spring, and is a low-growing, hardy perennial. It can be found growing in British woodlands, as a garden escape and often beats the snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis) into bloom.

It is not a true Aconite, though closely allied, being also a member of the Buttercup family (Ranunculaceae), whose blossoms it more nearly resembles. Like other members of the Buttercup family (and other Aconites), the whole Winter Aconite plant is poisonous and has caused several fatalities over the years. Greek literature refers to the use of Winter Aconite as poison.

The Generic name, Aeranthis, means flower of the Earth and probably refers to the low-growing habit of the plant.

There is no known medicinal use of the plant, though the juice is photo-active and acrid.

(Smell the Flowers)

First Crocus! [13 Feb 2006|07:25pm]

[ mood | amused ]

Oh! I saw my first crocus in St. Peters Square on Saturday morning!

On a more bizarre note, I saw my first daisy last night down North End Road.

(3 Flowers Smelled |Smell the Flowers)

[13 Feb 2006|07:23pm]

[ mood | busy ]

Snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis)

Synonyms: Fair Maid of February. Bulbous Violet.

The Snowdrop is usually spoken of as the first flower of the year, although it has never been of much account in physic, and has never been recognized. Gerard says 'nothing is set down hereof by the ancient Writers, nor anything observed by the moderne.' He calls it the Bulbous Violet, but adds that some call it the Snowdrop, the earliest mention of it by this name, and it was known to all the old botanists as a bulbous violet.

The generic name, Galanthus, is Greek in its origin and signifies Milkflower. Nivalis is Latin, meaning relating to or resembling snow. It is not a native of England, although it thrives over here, having been introduced from Italy. It is a native of Switzerland, Austria and of Southern Europe generally, but where naturalized here spreads into considerable masses, generally growing in shady pastures, woods and orchards. Eacb bulb sends up a one-flowered stem. The points of the leaves protecting the flower-head are thickened and toughened at the tips, enabling them to push through the soil. This simple device shows on the mature leaf like a delicate nail on a green finger. It's appearance in early February is seen by many as an indication that spring is on its way.

Gerard appears to be wrong in saying that the plant has no medicinal use. An old glossary of 1465, referring to it as Leucis i viola alba, classes it as an emmenagogue, and elsewhere, placed under the narcissi, its healing properties are stated to be 'digestive, resolutive and consolidante.' In the early 1980's it was discovered that there was a chemical contained in the plant which was a cholinesterase inhibitor called Galantamine. This is now produced commercially as Razadyne and Reminyl, used in the treatment of Alzheimers disease.

(Smell the Flowers)

Weirdness [08 Feb 2006|02:26pm]

[ mood | confused ]

Today feels weird. If I didn't know better I'd say Spring had arrived. If that's right then Punxsutawney Phil has seriously got it wrong this year.

There's a very cold wind blowing today (from the North West) yet, when it dies down the sun is actually warm on my face. The scent in the air is Springlike too.

I'm very confused.

cuvalwen: Prediction for you. The next time you see those crocuses, they'll be opened.

(2 Flowers Smelled |Smell the Flowers)

Crocuses (Crocii?) [07 Feb 2006|04:08pm]

Yesterday I saw the first crocuses of the year- little yellow ones around a small tree in St Peter's Square in Hammersmith, near the border of Chiswick. They've been there for several years now and have been my own personal indicator of Imbolc. There are 4 buds showing, still tightly wrapped up, but should open up soon, probably on Thursday would be my guess. Daffodils are coming up as well; no buds as yet but well on track for St David's day.
There will be purple and white ones as well, and around other trees, but it's always been those yellow ones there that come up first.

(Smell the Flowers)

Groundsel - Write-up [13 Jan 2006|03:06pm]

[ mood | content ]

Groundsel (Senecio vulgaris)

Synonyms:(Scotch) Grundy Swallow, Ground Glutton. (Norfolk) Simson, Sention.

Groundsel is a perennial herb, similar in appearance to Ragwort, but with no visible rays to the flower heads. Groundsel flowers all year round and is found on disturbed ground throughout the country.

The name of groundsel is from the Anglo-Saxon groundswellge meaning “ground-swallower” referring to the rapid way the weed spreads. This is also indicated in the regional names Grundy Swallow (Scotch) and Ground Glutton. The generic name is from the Lating Senex meaning “old man” and referring to the white-downy seed heads which appear in profusion after flowering has finished.

According to T. F. Thiselton-Dyer, Groundsel was used by Highland women to counteract the Evil Eye and was thought to be one of the herbs that formed the Virgins bed with thyme and woodruff.

According to Linnaeus, goats and swine eat the plant freely, cows are not partial and sheep and horses do not touch it. However it is most popular with birds and even up to the 1950’s it was popular fodder for canaries kept as pets.

Groundsel is a diuretic and purgatorive. It was used in poultices and in weak solutions as an emetic. The immediately dug root was a cure for headaches if smelled and the plant steeped in boiling water is a remedy for chapped hands.

In the UK farriers gave Groundsel to horses as a cure for bot-worms, and in Germany it was said to be employed as a popular vermifuge for children.

(Smell the Flowers)

West Kensington and Hammersmith Update [11 Jan 2006|01:38pm]

[ mood | calm ]

Well, the Ground Elder (Aegopodium podagraria) foliage has survived the winter so far, after putting forth new growth at the end of November. The Daffodils (Narcissus sp.) have started showing green and are around 1-2 inches high.

What has slightly surprised me is the realisation that both Silver Birch (Betula pendula) and Weeping Willow (Salix x sepulcralis) hang onto their (dead) leaves through the winter. cuvalwen and myself sat under a Weeping Willow on Saturday night and there was quite a bit of brown foliage hanging down.

It is a beautiful day today. The sky is a pale blue and it is a little hazy. It is mild at the moment (10oC) with a slight breeze from the west.

(Smell the Flowers)

New Years Day Walk [03 Jan 2006|04:33pm]

[ mood | awake ]

Well, the bitter and cold winter seems to have failed to materialise. Although there was quite heavy snow over the beginning of last week, it didn't stay long and we are back to rain and wind.

cuvalwen and I went for a brief walk along the Thames at Hammersmith on New Years Day, walking from Black Lion Stairs to the Bridge and back. It was pleasant, although a little chill and we had fun watching the seagulls at high tide. We also aspied a family of swans, two adults and two young adults. I'm not sure if you would call them cygnets as they were fully the size of the adults, although still with their fluffy grey plumage.

Plants are still endeavouring to flower - we even saw an ornamental cherry tree (Prunus serrulata) just opening its buds. Depending on the cultivar, this is somewhere between 8 and 12 weeks early!

(Smell the Flowers)

January [03 Jan 2006|09:08am]

[ mood | nostalgic ]

Well, it’s 2006 and to celebrate the beginning of the month, herewith are the observations made by Edith Holden back in 1906 for the month of January.

January brings the snow, makes our feet and fingers glowCollapse )

(Smell the Flowers)

Dates of Plant Flowering [27 Dec 2005|07:48pm]

[ mood | amused ]

Just a little something I took from one of the books I found last month. We'll see how accurate it is!!!

From “Weather Lore - A Collection of Proverbs, Sayings & Rules Concerning the Weather”

Compiled & Arranged by Richard Inwards FRAS. Published by Pryor Publications 1999, First published by Elliot Stock “around 1893”.

List of Common Plants

And the dates at which they ought to be in full flower. The forwardness of the seasons may be judged by the punctuality of the appearance of the blossoms.

Month Date Flower
January 2 Groundsel
January 4 Hazel
January 5 Bearsfoot
January 6 Common Dead Nettle
January 9 Laurel
January 10 Gorse
January 11 Early Moss
January 14 Barren Strawberry
January 15 Ivy
January 17 Anemone (Garden)
January 19 White Dead Nettle
January 27 Earth Moss
January 28 Double Daisy
January 30 Maidenhair

I've got the full set which I'll post up once it's coded. I'll also start with working out the scientific names... though some of them may be a little problematical!

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