Friday, 10 April 2009

Over the hills . . .

I had a birthday day out this week, down to various places west of here in Pembrokeshire. There everything was further advanced than our cold valley (we are a bit higher up too).

Wood sorrel (centre) with goosegrass clambering up past it. On a sheltered rocky bank near Pentre Ifan burial chamber. It's also known as Cuckoo's bread and cheese, and Granny's sour grass). It is also known as 'Alleluia' because it appears around Easter tide.

Above is a little piece of Ground Ivy, flowering on a sheltered rocky bank.

These violets were just along the lane. There were the first Stitchwort flowering too, but unfortunately it was blowing a bit up there and I couldn't hold the camera steady enough for a recognizable picture!

A whole hillside of gorse at Moylegrove.

The very first Bluebells on a bank in the pretty village of Moylegrove. Can I suggest you visit this site and click on the Flora and Fauna link, which gives excellent photographs of what can be found in that area.

Alexanders are often one of the first plants to put up fresh shoots at the back end of winter. They grow on banks near the sea and were originally a Mediterranean plant, obviously introduced - probably by the Romans, who used them as a spring vegetable and tonic. They take their name from being 'the parsley of Alexandria'. It was widely grown in Monastic herb gardens, and all of the plant was utilized and the young buds were pickled. It is strong-tasting with a 'pungent, angelica-like savour'. Celery eventually overtook its vegetable use.

Close up of Alexanders.

I saw this which I couldn't identify and had to refer to Marjorey Blamey. It is Common Scurvey Grass.

From its name you will deduce that it was taken on sea voyages because it is very high in Vitamin C content and helped reduce the Scurvey suffered by the sailors. Captain Cook took it on his voyages of discovery. Country folk also used it as a spring tonic.


  1. The hillside of gorse is beautiful. This is an interesting post for me because I've always wondered what scurvy grass and Alexanders look like. I suspect I'm in the wrong part of the country for Alexanders but maybe over on the Lancashire coast - not that it's very Mediterranean-like over there but at least it's near the sea! I have yet another name for goosegrass - I know it as cleavers as well.

  2. Cleavers familiar to me too Rowan. You should find Alexanders on the Lancs coastline - the Romans got up that far!

  3. Happy Birthday for this the gorse bank and the violets too. With a name like Goosey I should like the goosegrass!

  4. When I have a moment with wits about me I shall have to give these plants a closer look. Wondering if the "Alexander" is related to lovage or maybe even the same plant--both umbelliferae [?] I have been intrigued by "goose grass" as it is mentioned in several of the Brother Cadfael mysteries and wondered if New England wouldn't have a similar plant.

  5. Great post BB - I didn't know what Common Scurvey Grass was! The front of my garden is full of bluebells just waiting to burst into life - will need a few more weeks of sunshine before we see the flowers though! They are one of my favourite spring flowers -just perfect in shape and colour! It's interesting to see, via people's blog photo, just how much variation there is in climate in the UK - things flowering a good few weeks earlier in dorset and somerset, than here in the Midlands, for instance. And - what an amazing show of daffodils this year - I can't remember them being this prolific or vibrant the last few years? Is it something to do with the hard winter we've just had?

    Willow x

  6. Could well be Willow - I was thinking they looked particularly good this year too. You have microclimates too. There were pussy willows with silver paws in DECEMBER down by B&Q in Carmarthen, and a couple of weeks later further along the A40. Here, our one by the gate is only just putting out paws whilst the others have gone yellow and now dropping their fat "paws".

    As for the Scurvey Grass, I saw it again (2nd time in my life!) in a pavement crack in Aberaeron last evening!