Thursday, 12 March 2009

Elder - and a few more leaves!

Well, I could write "Leaves Are Us!" right now, as lots of plants seem to have suddenly started putting out either leaves or buds for same. I am delighted to see the first little leaves on my Elders at the bottom of the yard (photo above) - very dark when they first sprout, but lightening up as they grow larger. We have a tree a little further along on the stream bank which is much darker anyway in the leaf, and its flowers are a slightly creamier colour. The Elder has so many uses - you can cook the blossoms in batter, add them to jam, make a soothing hand cream with them (as I do, and something very similar was also shown on Tales from the Green Valley), make Elderflower Champagne and E. Cordial and E. Wine, and then there are the berries which make a wonderful port-like wine, and can be used to make Elderberry Rob, wonderful for winter coughs, or added to Hedgepick Jam, or pies. The branches are hollow and used to be hollowed out and turned into pea-shooters in country areas. We found this out when a man turned up at the door who was evacuated here during the war. He used his as a protection against the geese which were kept in the yard and which used to pinch his short-clad legs when he had to go amongst them to use the little Ty Bach which straddled the stream.

Below, Red Dead-Nettle growing with the creeping buttercup in my VEG patch!

I think these will be Red Campion, but they don't look quite right, so if YOU know exactly what they are, tell me or else we'll have to wait until they flower!

Ground Ivy.


Cut-Leaved Cranesbill - I 95% "think". Lack of sleep is making me groggy.

Sun Spurge on bank down by the river.
Below is Ivy-Leaved Toadflax. It has a little lilac flower later on. I first saw it growing in a wall beside the - then defunct but now restored - railway line which ran from Swanage up through Corfe Castle and beyond.

On the way to Hay-on-Wye we pass this wonderful apple orchard where the trees are bedecked with Mistletoe. Winter is the best time to spot Mistletoe growing of course.


  1. Thank you for your photos of different wild plants - it's very educational. Once we have some plants to photograph - it's still too early here - I hope to start taking some of our native prairie plants. Thank you for the inspiration.

  2. I've never seen mistletoe growing, it looks fantastic. The elder leaves are just beginning to open here as well, it's my favourite wild tree, so many uses and so much country lore about it. I make an ointment with the flowers which is absolutely wonderful for small burns, grazes etc.

  3. Kate - must check out your blog - I assume you have one. Look forward to the wild flower photos.

    What's the base for your ointment Rowan? you've probably seen "my" recipe (taken from Farmhouse Fare) on CL and on C&C. I could have written a whole post about the Elder, and may when it comes into flower.

  4. Hi BB, it looks definitely red campion (the one you were'nt sure about. I have grown the white campion, it has a bladder sort of flower but seems shortlived. Definitely cut leafed(or leaved?) cranesbill it grows up on the slopes of the downs round Bath.

  5. My ointment is very simple - sweet almond oil, elderflowers and beeswax. I did a blog post about 'how to'
    will take you to it or just search under elderflowers on my blog.

  6. I think I was blundering around last night trying to post a comment about ground ivy--again wondering if the plant which I rather detested in my New England garden was the same as your photograph. I've looked at several photos online and it is the one, although referring to it as "mint-scented" is flattering it greatly. I recall it as having a nasty rank odorand very invasive manners. I couldn't remember the more common [to me] name for it until I happened on "gill over the ground." Discovered yet another name is "ale hoof." Now I'm wondering if hepatica grows in Britain? It was the first of the "May flowers" to bloom in our woods, a round leaved and a sharper leaved variety. It has a delicate sweet-clean scent and various colors--white, shades of blue, various pinks--the intensity of color might vary from year to year and I wondered if weather or locality had to do with that.

  7. I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I think I will leave my first comment. I don’t know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often. lots in Costa Rica