I decided a few years ago now that I was going to try and identify as many of the local wildflowers and trees as I could. After a bit of a hiatus I’m back on the case, prompted by spotting a few clumps of this plant, whose vibrant green leaves were illuminated by the slanting evening sunlight.
My Collins guide tells me it’s woodruff, and that it’s found in woodland, usually in Beech woods. This particular clump was under a garden hedge on the main road through the village … but it was a beech hedge! Maybe the original seeds came in with the whips. It’s from a group of plants known as bedstraw because they were used to stuff mattresses. Although it doesn’t really smell when fresh, once it’s dried it has the delicious aroma of freshly mown hay which it keeps for quite a while. It was also kept in the linen closet to deter insects and keep the linen smelling fresh. Apparently the leaves make rather a good tea too. John Gerard (1545-1612) the herbalist says:
‘The flowers are of a very sweet smell as is the rest of the herb, which, being made up into garlands or bundles, and hanged up in houses in the heat of summer, doth very well attemper the air, cool and make fresh the place, to the delight and comfort of such as are therein. It is reported to be put into wine, to make a man merry, and to be good for the heart and liver, it prevaileth in wounds, as Cruciata and other vulnerary herbs do.’
I also found a few clumps of this Ivy Leaved Toadflax colonising a wall and part of the footpath. It’s a Mediterranean plant which has now naturalised in the UK. It’s a pretty little thing with violet like flowers.
And finally a shot of May blossom with a honey bee. It was quite laden with pollen!