Plot 16B – Patsy Smiles Flowers

One of the first things I did when we moved to a village was to sign up for an allotment. I’ve got dreams of an idyllic oasis of calm amongst my home-grown flowers, fruit and veg. I want to create a beautiful place I can cycle to on my Pashley bicycle. I found I couldn’t cycle off road on my Pashley as she’s just too heavy. However she looks pretty and is built for carrying home grown produce in her big basket.

 

I’d like a shed on my allotment which I can sit outside on a balmy sunny evening amongst pots of herbs and brightly coloured geraniums with a glass of wine relaxing on a deckchair. I’ll enjoy sketching the fruits of my labour too.

I’m now the proud owner of Plot 16B, which has cost me the vast sum of £2.50 rent a year! My first job this month has been to assess the site. I’d chosen this one as I was informed that it had been worked in the last year, had been well manured and although overgrown the weeds were mainly annuals  and not perennials, so should be easily brought back to life.

My first visit was a bit daunting. I couldn’t see the edge of my plot and didn’t quite know where to start. However I could see there was potential. The previous occupant had left a few fruit bushes behind. There were quite a few raspberry canes with ripe fruit and what appeared to be a gooseberry bush. There was also a delapidated cold frame filled with an assortment of rubbish.

I wasn’t sure if the broken cold-frame was rescuable or whether it was in the right location. However I’ll be able to use the wire netting and the drain pipe and there’s a nifty fire grate which might be useful for building a bonfire.

Plot 16B faces North. In the South West side of the plot was a Christmas tree and an overgrown gooseberry bush entwined with weeds and grass. We are not meant to grow trees so the Christmas tree had to go. The gooseberry bush may be rescuable so I cut it right back hoping to rejuvenate it.

The South East corner of my plot is rather overgrown with raspberry canes. It looks like there is a mixture of Summer and Autumn fruiting raspberries and there were a few fruit lingering on before the first frosts. I’d like to keep the raspberries, but get them under control. They’re no longer in neat rows  and are spreading out over too much of my plot. I can see that I’ll have a good fruit area and will move my Uncle’s old rhubarb, strawberries and currants to join the raspberries and gooseberry already there.

The area at the Southern end of my plot might be a grass path bordering a piece of communal fallow land. However it rather looked like I needed to hire Ross Poldark with his sythe to deal with the overgrown couch grass which was creeping into the fruit area.

Sadly Ross Poldark was not available! However I have made some lovely friends on the allotments. Octogenarian, Lew, rents several plots including one to the right of my 16B. He was more than happy to help me out and get me started. He might not own a sythe, but he does have a nifty rotavator! He felt it was ok to rotavate most of my ground as it contained mainly annual weeds. I dug out the dandelions and other weeds which needed digging first. This part didn’t have couch grass. Whilst I started on the fruit area Lew mowed my weeds..

I’m quite fond of the impressive tall yellow spikes of Great Mullein flowers. However I’m not sure I wanted this one in the middle of my allotment so it had to go. However at the North East corner is a clump of comfrey.  It’s half on my plot and half next door. The comfrey can stay as I can make a liquid feed with the leaves.

The next visit I made to 16B I found Lew had not only mowed but also rotavated my main growing area. What a difference!

Mean while I had set to on the fruit area. I don’t mind digging up couch grass. in fact I find it quite satisfying doing battle with nature. Will I win or will nature have it’s way?!

However I found the part in front of the broken cold-frame extremely hard work. I stuck my fork in and hit … carpet! Not exactly a goldmine. There was layer upon layer of carpet. It had obviously been put down to surpress the weeds. However the couch grass had taken over so another carpet layer had been put on top. Digging up carpet was hard work as the dirt on top was very heavy. However another allotment owner set to work and gave me a hand. Derrick arrived just at the right time. I had been getting a bit despondant about my carpet pile. With Derrick’s help we got it all up quite quickly. I went home mulling over how I was going to get rid of piles of dirty, heavy rain sodden carpet.

I didn’t need to worry… over night a mystery carpet fairy appeared and whisked the carpet away! In fact I found Lew proudly stoking his bonfire. My carpet had disappeared in a puff of smoke together with a lot of the enormous pile of dried couch grass I’d pulled up. Three cheers for Lew! Not only has Lew got me off to a cracking start in my first month down on Plot 16B Patsy Smiles Flowers, but he has also provided me with a lovely crop of potatoes for dinner!

Octogenarian Lew has given me a wonderful start to my new allotment venture. However his potato heart is reserved for his new lady friend!

Do join me down on my Plot next month to see how I progress…

 

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Yew Hedge – October


Earlier this month we moved into our dream house in a beautiful Oxfordshire village. When we walked up the drive we knew we would love to live here. I fell in love with the garden even before we walked through the front door. It was obvious Bob and Gwen had lovingly tended their garden as it was crammed full of interesting plants.

We haven’t quite been in a month. However our dreams have come true. I am looking forward to seeing what comes up over the next year.

We have gardens at the front and the back. Both are quite different. The front is South facing and apparently gets very hot in the Summer, so the grass will get quite parched. Above our porch at the front is a vine and a passion fruit. The large lounge window looks out over the front garden and is beautifully framed with vine leaves and passion flower orange fruits. I have discovered they are not to be eaten, even if they do look like luscious apricots.

One of my favourite blooms in the front at the moment are the Kaffir Lilies. I’ve never grown them before and I like their graceful beauty.

It’s interesting moving to a garden where someone else has influenced the design and planting. I didn’t have any fucshia plants in our last garden. The ones I’ve seen growing were lack lustre. However I rather like the dainty ballerina pink coloured one.

The dainty pink rose `The Fairy’ is still growing strong outside our front window and the magenta pink chrysanthemum is a magnet for butterflies even in late October!

Gwen told me that a large Viburnum tinus plant was moved as it smelt unpleasant. It has been replaced with dahlias and helenium. I hope they survive the Winter as they didn’t cope well where we’ve moved from. In time I might like to add a few ornamental grasses alongside for Autumnal interest.

We have a riot of colour with the red berries of the Pyracantha alongside the Yew Hedge.

Just this week little iris flowers have come out to greet me as I arrive home from work.

The back garden is much more shady, but equally lovely. We have a low wall which backs on to a neighbour’s wild life area, full of bird friendly shrubs and trees. I have embraced the bird feeders and we have seen 10 goldfinches, blue tits, blackbirds, great tits, green finches and a robin. They are rather fond of sunflower seeds consuming the contents of a giant birdfeeder in a few days.

Gwen had planted brightly coloured geranium spilling out of the pot lying on it’s side. I decided to pot them up to over winter and have replaced them with bright `n’ cheery cyclamen which give the same effect. They give a nice splash of colour when you look out of the kitchen window to watch the birds on the feeders.

The alstroemeria looks very healthy so I’ll enjoy cutting a few stems to arrange in the house together with the Winter flowering Jasmine.

The water feature is a nice addition and was very proudly constructed by Bob the previous owner. Next time I must switch the water on for my photo! There’s a tiny pond with a resident frog which I spotted when collecting fallen leaves.

So there we have it – a quick tour of our new garden. I look forward to sharing more photos with you over the coming months and years.

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Photo Detective – 1890s

Hazel Crawford recently sent me this lovely photo and asked if I could help with establishing a date. I’m always up for a photo detective challenge! The photo was taken outside Syringa House in Christ Church, Wisbech, Cambridgeshire. Hazel is particularly interested in the photo as she is currently undertaking a massive renovation project of the house. Syringa is an Early 19th century cottage built of local gault brick and with a pantiled roof.


Hazel made a guess that her photo was of a christening as two small children are being held up to the camera and therefore seem a significant part of the family. However on closer inspection I was able to establish that the photo is a late Victorian wedding photo. It is often easy to overlook a wedding group if a `white gowned girl’ isn’t taking centre stage.

Late Victorian Weddings

The White Wedding was not firmly established during the 19th century. White wedding dresses were a luxury. Brides often wore a coloured day dress, which could be worn again.  It was also common for brides to wear a hat instead of a veil. Photos and newspaper evidence tend to report on the highest levels of fashionable society and therefore give a false impression that a bride always wore a white dress and long veil. In this newspaper report from 1894 the bride wore a fawn travelling costume with a hat to match.

Western Mail 10 Aug 1894

 

On closer inspection our central lady may not be wearing white, but she is carrying a bridal bouquet and her clothes and hat are trimmed with white.

 

Some brides did choose to wear white. This fabulous photo of Alma Simmonds was taken in 1897 and demonstrates the latest style of dress for the ’90s. What an amazing waist Alma has! She must have had a good corset. In the 1890s waists were tiny and were combined with top-heavy sleeves and bell-shaped skirts.

Our photo is typical of the 1890s which saw a rise of larger group wedding scenes.  Outdoor settings for wedding photos were more common in the later part of the 19th century.

Women’s Dress 1890s

I have taken a lot of my fashion clues from this very informative book by Betty Kreisel Shubert, which I highly recommend purchasing. It is easy to read and has a wealth of information.

 

The biggest clues to dating a photo from the 1890s are women’s sleeve style variations.

1890 -1892 The vertical high-top sleeve cap that had begun in the late 1880s lasted through to 1892

1892 The sleeve cap was growing wider horizontally.

A small vertical puff at the shoulder was, a sign that the gigot or leg-o-mutton was developing

Skirts were flared and A-line.

The Bishop Sleeve also grew wider. This photo of Agnes Groboski was taken in 1892 to celebrate her wedding to Frederick William Polglass Perrett in Queensland, Australia.
1895 – 1897 Sleeves were at their most extreme. Huge leg -o’- mutton sleeves were named after their unusual shape. They were formed from a voluminous amount of fabric at the upper arm which tapered to a tight fit at the lower arm from the elbow to the wrist. They had been fashionable in the 1820s and then went out of favour. In this short period during the 1890s the over blown sleeves were designed to accentuate a tiny corseted waist.

Dundee Courier 24 April 1896

In 1896 Agnes Perrett wore the latest fashion in sleeve style when she posed for this photo with her two boys Frederick and Stanley.

 

 1897 – 1898 Beginning in 1897 there was a change of emphasis at the top of the sleeves. Huge leg o’ muttons were replaced with ruffles, double ball puffs and other top of the shoulder decoration. The sleeve puff began to deflate and withdrew higher up the arm. We see smaller caps and big fanciful ruffles.  

  

1897 The ball-shaped puff sleeve style arrived in 1897 and variations lasted through 1900. The sleeve was narrow, topped by a separately sewn-on, small (or large)  ball-shaped puff which resembled a lollipop on a stick. The younger fashionable lady on the right of the group is wearing these sleeves. It almost looks like she wants to emphasise that she is wearing the most fashionable outfit  as she has turned away from the camera to show off her puff-ball sleeves and narrow waist.

1898 -1900 The sleeve returned to more modest proportion and skirts had a tulip flare.  A narrower sleeve was fashionable with some detailing at the top of the arm. You might see a small puff, frill or epaulette. Tailor-made suits were worn and we begin to see shirt-waist blouses.

 

Women’s Hats – 1890s

 

It is more difficult to date a photo form the 1890s by looking at hat style. Vintage photos show women wearing the same shape of hat throughout the decade. Looking at the sleeve style is usually more informative.

The straw boater or sailor hat was universally worn. Masculine styled clothes became fashionable with the rise of sporting activities for women. It was quite acceptable for a women to wear a boater where once it had been considered too masculine.  

 

Platter Hats were common. These had slightly larger straight brims than a boater.

Hats tended to be flat with a shallow, wide crown and there was a general trend towards wider hat brims.They were worn straight on or tipping forward.

You often see high, vertical trims in the 1890s.

It was fashionable to wear a hat with a veil. Four of the ladies in our wedding party are wearing hats with veils, which provides a clue to their identity.

 

Hairstyles grew fuller around mid decade. Hair tended to be waved or rolled back from the face. You begin to see wider brimmed hats that rest plate like on the head and were ornamented with bows, feathers and flowers.

In the 1890s men in their twenties and thirties began to discard the beard in favour of a neat moustache. Older men retained their beards as they represented dignity and authority. The Walrus moustache was the look of the decade.

Men wore a variety of styles of hat including bowlers, boaters and hombergs. The cloth cap with a peak was popular among ordinary working men for country wear.

Identifying our 1890s Bride

I know from Hazel that the Berry family were living at Syringa House, Christ Church, Upwell in the 1890s. From various census returns I found Samuel Berry, a farmer, married to Mary and they had at least 7 children.

Samuel Joseph Berry b 1825 Upwell = Mary b 1829 Pluckley, Kent

Samuel Hugh Berry b 1854 U.S.A

Alice Berry b 1856 U.S.A

Ida Francis Berry b 1860 U.S.A = James Henry Hutchinson m 1905

Clara Elizabeth Berry b 1862 U.S.A = John Francis Corke b 1839 m 1898

Ann Ellen Berry b 1866 Upwell d 1871

Sarah Jane Berry b 1868 Upwell  = Frederick Hyde m 1891

Florence Lucy Berry b 1871 Upwell  d Autumn 1898 = Francis Lidington Corke m 1895

1871 census Christchurch, Upwell

From my research I am dating the photo as sometime between 1897 and 1900. One of the ladies has ball shaped puff sleeves which came in to fashion around 1897. Ida married in 1905 which is too late for our photo. Sarah married in 1891 and this is too early. The oldest ladies are wearing fashions which are at the tail end of Leg O’ Mutton Sleeve Era dating the photo to after 1896. I am making an educated guess that our bride is not Florence either as she married in 1895. I believe therefore that the photo is either of Clara Berry or her sister Alice. I can’t find any records for Alice in the locality. I therefore think our bride must be Clara Elizabeth Berry who married John Francis Corke in 1898 in Pockthorpe, Norwich.

Marriage of Clara E Berry to John Francis Corke – 20 Dec 1898

On closer inspection this is an interesting wedding. Clara was 36 and married John Corke aged 60, a widower with 5 grown-up children. One of John’s children Francis had married Clara’s sister Florence Berry in 1895! Florence and Francis had 2 young children Stanley and John Corke born in 1896 and 1897. Clara’s brother in law Francis had been left a widower a couple of months earlier when her sister Florence died. Clara married her brother in law’s father. The two boys were brought up by Clara and another sister Ida Berry after she married.


1911 census records for the 2 young boys

I would love to go back in time. Did Clara marry for love or duty? Her marriage to a man who was old enough to be her father meant she could look after her deceased sister’s children and her new husband ‘s grandchildren. Clara’s sister Ida and her son-in-law Francis were both witnesses at the wedding. Francis emigrated to the USA and left his children behind with his father and later re-married himself.

The photo is therefore not a celebration of a double baptism as Hazel presumed,  but a close-knit family wedding. The two children are being held up because they are a significant part of the celebration. Stanley and John have just lost their mother Florence and their Aunt Clara is marrying their grandfather John Corke.

I am guessing the photo was taken before the party set off for the marriage ceremony and that the elder groom is therefore not present. The four ladies wearing veils are the Berry sisters and Ida is the sister at the front acting as bridesmaid and dressed the same as her sister, but without the bouquet.

I love knowing the stories behind a photo and doing a bit of detective work.. What a wonderful thing to know the story behind the people that lived in your house. I was very pleased to be able to help Hazel in her quest for information. Please do get in touch if you have an interesting photo for me to play detective with!

 

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Endure 24 – spotting 24 Wildflowers

 

This weekend I got to experience Mizuno Endure24 for the first time. It’s advertised as `Glastonbury for runners, a 24 hour running party in the woods.’ Hubbie and I set off full of trepidation. I’ve had an ongoing knee problem which has meant I haven’t been able to run for months. Mr Smiles had never entered a race before and had been too busy studying to train. The day dawned with clouds and rain. Not to be deterred I suggested an impromptu trip to Go Outdoors to invest in a bigger, more comfortable tent which would give us shelter from the rain. As it turned out I got thoroughly sunburnt instead of soaked through to the skin.

 

No soon as we had arrived and our tent was up. A friendly bunch from Harwell Harriers Running Club had the tent up in no time and we were free to eat al fresco and have our drink of choice. Pimms for me from the cocktail caravan and a real Ale for Mr Smiles. Lovely chilled start to the event. New friends were made and our new tent proved cosy and comfortable.

We were `competing’ in a team of six. I say competing. There was no real competing in our team, just a commitment to have fun and enjoy ourselves. Three more team members arrived in the morning and we had their tents up in a jiffy.

 

There was no time for lunch before the loud claxon went to start the event. No complaints from my behalf as we had had the traditional camp breakfast of bacon roll cooked to perfection outdoors. The Didcot Runners had gone `posh’ and had smoked salmon omelettes instead of our traditional fare cooked by their chef Andrew Casey.

Liz was our team’s Wonderwoman and started the race for our team. The whole event had 3000 runners competing either Solo or in teams attempting to cover as many laps of the 5 mile course in 24 hours.

Before we knew it Liz was back passing on the team yellow tag of power to Mr Smiles. I had trained him well to make sure he smiled and waved for the camera. We are Mr and Mrs Smiles after all!

 

Photo credit epicactionimagery

Then it was my turn. I had invested in some new shorts and my knee was thoroughly taped up to try to minimise any pain. So off I trotted. Delighted that the sun was shining and I had a spring in my step.

 

It became apparent that the shorts weren’t very satisfactory and my knee and glutes weren’t as happy as could be. Thank goodness I was in a team with a motto of `Being in it to have fun!’ I settled in to a walk/ gentle jog with the aim of enjoying the experience. It was a fantastic route through open meadow and woodland. I was in my element spotting wildflowers and taking in the view. I haven’t a clue how long it took to complete my first lap, but I’m sure I had as much fun as anyone out there.  Even on the Hill of No Return! I decided to reinvent the event to suit myself. Instead of trying to wear myself out and run as far and as fast as I could over 24 hours I aimed to spot 24 wildflowers over the 24 hour period.

 

 

Mr Casey seemed to be putting the effort in at the end of one of his laps and Sera was lapping up the cheers from the crowds like royalty. Some took it fast, some took it slow. Some were in fancy dress and some were decked out in their Running Club kit. Anything goes at Endure 24!

There was plenty of opportunity for chilling in between laps with lashings of Swedish meatballs and mugs of tea.

Photo credit Epicactionimagery

To while the time away I did my usual trick of totting up how many wildflowers I could spot on each of my laps. At one point Laura one of Abingdon Athletics Club members spotted me with my bum in the air photographing wildflowers. A few other runners were concerned that I might have been overcome by the heat instead of getting up close to nature with my camera phone.

In total I managed 3 laps including one which needed my head torch in the dark. This was a magical experience with fairy lights amongst the trees in the Fairy Glen. Sadly the fairies were hiding until later into the night.

Endure 24 Wildflower Count

I set myself the individual challenge of spotting 24 different wildflowers over the 24 hour period. I felt it was a bit like playing Pokemon Go! with flowers and was delighted when I spotted a few I haven’t seen in the wild before such as Tutsan and Yellow Pimpernel. I have seen both Scarlet Pimpernel and Blue Pimpernel before so felt I was completing the set. It was apparent that the Endure 24 woodland run enabled me to see flowers which grow in different habitats than those I visit at home which tends to have more chalky soil. I saw quite a few plants which like deciduous woodland and other moist shady places, usually on mildly acid soils.

Wood Forget-me-not, Myosotis sylvatica

Borage Family

15 – 40 cm tall perennial with no rooting runners.  Stems erect to somewhat sprawling. Hairs on stem. Flowers up to 8mm across, pale blue and flat.  Garden escapes usually have brighter flowers and can be pinkish. Flowers fragrant especially in the evening.

 

Flowering Season: April to August

Habitat: Light shade in woodland and damp hedge banks. A common garden escape in a wide variety of habitats.

 

Green Alkanet, Pentaglottis sempervirens

Borage Family

Bristly erect perennial, 30 – 60 cm tall. Pointed-oval leaves. Basal leaves are greater then 5cm wide and untoothed. Leaves and stems have bristle-like white hairs. Flower heads are very bristly with a leafy bract below. Corollas are bright blue with a white eye, 10 mm wide. The corolla is made up of 5 petals with 5 stamens.

Flowering Season: April to July

Habitat: common in gardens, but very common in light shade on verges, woodland margins and waste ground near habitation.

 

Red Campion, Silene dioica

Campion Family

Leaves opposite, 4 -12 cm long.  5 petalled red or bright rose-pink flowers, each petal deeply notched. Flower heads 18 – 25 mm across, the calyx tube prominently ribbed, with 5 blunt teeth at the tip.

Flowering Season: April to July

Habitat: Common in woodland clearings, hedgerows and other lightly shaded places, also coastal cliffs and cliff-top grassland and shingle banks

Lesser Stitchwort, Stellaria graminea

Campion Family

Straggling stems grow from creeping rhizomes. Leaves narrow and pointed, stalkless and in opposite pairs 1.5 – 4 cm long. Flowers are 5 – 18mm across.  5 sepals, 10 stamens and 3 styles. The white petals are split more than half way.

Flowering Season: April to July

Habitat: common in rough grassy places and open woodland on neutral to acid soils

Wild Angelica, Angelica sylvestris

Carrot Family

Tall, robust perennial up to 200 cm tall. Very stout hollow purplish stems. Leaves usually hairless, 30 – 60 cm long, leaflets toothed and pointed. Distinctive bulbous inflated sheaths where the leaf and flower stalks join the stem. Flowers white or pink. Umbels 3 – 15 cm across, strongly domed.

Flowering Season: June to September

Habitat: very common in damp, open or lightly shaded places: streamsides, woodland rides, also sea cliffs and upland grassland

Marsh Thistle, Cirsium palustre 

Daisy Family

Bristly erect Biennial, 30 – 200 cm tall. Continuously spiny hairy stem. Often very tall and slender. Branched at the top of the stem. Leaves dark green and often purple flushed. Small flower heads, 7 – 12 mm across, in dense crowded clusters. Florets usually purple, but can be white or pale pink.

Flowering Season: June to September

Habitat: Very common in a wide variety of damp or wet places, including heavily-grazed moorland and wet woodland

White Dead Nettle, Lamium album

Dead-Nettle Family

Erect hairy, tufted perennial, 20 – 60 cm tall. The leaves resemble a nettle but lack stinging hairs. Hairy stems, often purplish. Leaves  3 – 7 cm long. White flowers in dense, well spaced whorls.

Flowering Season: March to December

Habitat: common in gardens, hedgebanks, verges and waste ground

Herb Robert, Geranium robertianum

Geranium Family

Annual or biennial, 10 – 40 cm tall. Strong-smelling. The whole plant is hairy. The leaves are palmate, deeply cut into 3 – 5 leaflets, these in turn deeply cut. The stem and leaves are often red flushed. The pink petals are 8 – 14 mm long and rounded at the tip. Anthers orange or purple.

Flowering Season: April to Oct

Habitat: Abundant in light shade in hedgebanks, woods and gardens, and on walls, limestone pavement scree and shingle. Dry, disturbed wasteland.

Hedgerow Cranesbill, Geranium pyrenaicum

Geranium Family

Perennial, 25 – 60 cm tall. A straggling geranium with hairy stems and leaves. The leaves are opposite, 35 – 90 mm across, lobed up to half way to the base. Dull purple petals 7  – 10 mm long, notched at tip, narrowing at base to a short `stem’.

Flowering Season: May to July

Habitat: Locally common in SE, on verges, banks, field margins and waste ground, often near houses

Rhododendron, Rhododendron ponticum

Heath Family

Tall, hairless evergreen shrub, up to 5 m tall. Large, leathery oval to oblong dark green leaves 6 – 12 cm long. Flowers form distinctive rounded heads. Violet purple in colour with brown spots. 5 unequal lobes and 10 stamens. Flowers 4 – 6 cm across.

Flowering Season: May to June

Habitat: Locally abundant. Woodland, especially on acid soils, also colonises on open hillsides. Regenerates freely from seed and can form dense thickets, excluding other plants.

The Pea Family is easily recognized by its pea-like five-petalled flowers, with a wide, often erect standard petal at the top, two wing petals at the sides and the two lower petals forming a boat-shaped keel. Forms an elongated pod, often splitting into twp valves when ripe to release seeds. Leaves are usually trifoliate.

Clovers form a large genus within the Pea Family. They all have small individual flowers in the flower head, trefoil leaves, flowers with five toothed calyx, wing petals are longer than the keel, and straight short pods are enclosed within the withered calyx.

Red Clover, Trifolium pratense

Pea Family

Hairy perennial, 10 – 60 cm tall. Stems more or less erect. The leaves are grey-green elliptical to oval,  divided into 3 leaflets, each 15 – 30 mm long, often with a white chevron. Flower heads are more or less stalkless, with a pair of leaves immediately below. Flowers pinkish-purple, 12 – 18 mm long. Calyx hairy, enclosing the seed pod when mature.

Flowering Season: May to September

Habitat: common in all types of grassland and waste ground

White Clover, Trifolium repens

Pea Family

Creeping, rooting perennial, up to 50 cm tall. Main stems prostrate, rooting at the nodes and thus patch forming. From the ground hugging stems the leaves arise on stalks. The globular clusters of flowers are held upright on leafless stalks up to 20 cm long. Leaflets 10 – 30 mm long, finely toothed, usually with a pale chevron near the base. Flowers 7 – 12 mm long, usually off-white, sometimes pale pink, rarely reddish. Seed pods larger than calyx.

Flowering Season: May to September

Habitat: common in most types of grassland, although scarcer in tall grass. Avoids very wet or very acid soils. Also found on waste ground and disturbed places.

Common Bird’s Foot Trefoil, Lotus corniculatus

Pea Family

Low creeping perennial, 10 – 50 cm tall. A sprawling, low growing pea. Leaves divided into 5 oval leaflets with the basal pair at the junction of the stem and leaf stalk. Lacks tendrils. Flowers yellow to orange or streaked red, often reddish in bud, in clusters at the tip of long stalks. Seed pods in groups, resembling a bird’s foot. Flowers 10 – 16 mm long in clusters of 2 – 8 forming the flower head. The introduced sown variety have all yellow flowers, not tinged red or orange.

Flowering Season: May to September

Habitat: common in short, dry , unimproved grassland, also shingle banks and dunes

Yellow Pimpernel, Lysimachia nemorum

Primrose Family

Prostrate hairless perennial, up to 40 cm tall. Delicate, low growing, or sprawling. Bright shiny green leaves are in opposite pairs along the stems, oval and pointed 1 – 4 cm long. Solitary, yellow star-like flowers are on slender stalks arising from the leaf axils, 10 – 15 mm across. The yellow corolla is divided into 5 petals, sepals are green.

Flowering Season: May to September

Habitat: fairly common in deciduous woodland and other moist, shady places, usually on acid soils. In the north by moorland streams and on cliffs.

Wood Avens, Geum urbanum

Rose Family

Downy, straggly perennial up to 60 cm tall. Slender, hairy stems and pinnate leaves. The leaves are usually three lobed with a blunt- toothed terminal leaflet.  Small open, erect yellow flowers turn into slightly prickly fruit heads. The yellow flowers have five well-separated petals, the sepals clearly visible between them.  The petals are 4 – 7 mm long.

Flowering Season: May – November

Habitat: Light shade in deciduous woodland, scrub, hedgebanks and waste ground.

Creeping Cinquefoil, Potentilla reptans

Rose Family

Perennial, 30 – 60 cm tall.  Ground hugging creeping stems rooting at nodes. Sparsely hairy. Basal leaf rosette gives rise to the long runners that root at the nodes. Leaves on stems up to 5 cm long. Leaves palmately cut into 5 narrow leaflets. Yellow flowers 15 – 25 mm across with 5 petals  growing singly on long stems from the leaf axils.

Flowering Season: May – September

Habitat: common on short,rough grassland, verges, dry pastures, woodland rides and waste ground.

Dog-rose, Rosa canina

Rose Family

A climber with strong arching stems to 3m and curved prickles. Leaves with 2-3 pairs of toothed leaflets. Flowers are 4-5 cm, pink or white. Sepals are lobed, spreading at first, but turning down against the hip and falling before it ripens.

Flowering Season:June to September

Habitat: commonest wild rose in most of England and Wales. Hedges, scrub and woodland margins. Avoids most acid soils.

Sweetbriar, Rosa rubiginosa

Rose Family

Straight stems,  erect up to 2 m. A pink-flowered shrub rose.  Strongly curved prickles of various sizes mixed with robust bristles, especially towards the flowers. 5 – 7 leaflets, hairy on the veins. Flowers 2.5 – 4 cm across, in clusters of 1 – 3. Stigmas hairy. Flower stalks covered with brownish sticky gland-bearing apple-scented hairs.

Flowering Season: June to July

Habitat: Fairly common in open scrub and hedgerows, usually on chalky soils

Bramble, Rubus fructicosus

Rose Family

Numerous microspecies of bramble. Differ in stem armament and hair distribution. Brambles are a genus of scrambling, erect or creeping shrubs, mostly spiny, leaves undivided, or usually with 3 – 5 pinnately or palmately arranged leaflets. 1 – 3 m, with usually arching and angled stems bearing hooked spines, prickles and hairs. Flowers are white or pink, in panicles on the ends of last year’s stems. Berries start green maturing to red then shiny black or purple-red.

Flowering Season: May – September

Habitat: Very common in scrub, woods, wasteland, hedgebanks. Often highly invasive if unmanaged.

Tutsan, Hypericum androsaemum

St John’s Wort Family

Shrubby low deciduous shrub, 40 – 100 cm tall. Hairless shrub with branched reddish stems. Leaves oval, stalkless, 50 – 120 mm long. Aromatic when bruised. Typical St John’s wort flowers and black berries. Yellow flowers 15 – 25 mm across, in small clusters. Petals equal or shorter than the sepals. 3 styles. Stamens about as long as the petals. Fruit ripens from green through red to a black berry 5 – 8 mm across.

Flowering Season: June to August

Habitat: Locally frequent, especially in S and W. Damp, shady places in woods and hedgebanks. Also spread by birds to drier habitats. Flowers elsewhere as a garden escape

Foxglove, Digitalis purpurea

Figwort Family

Biennial or short lived perennial, up to 200 cm tall. Densely hairy, unbranched stems. Leaves 10 – 30 cm long, oval lanceolate, pointed, wrinkled. The lower leaves form an overwintering basal rosette. Distinctive spires of pinkish-purple or white flowers. The flowers are tubular to narrow bell – shaped and are spotted darker within the throat.

Flowering Season: June to August

Habitat: common on acid soils, especially following soil disturbance or fires. Hedgebanks, woodland clearings, heaths, moors and sea cliffs

Bracken, Pteridium aquilinum

Dennstaedtiaceae Family

Tall 1 – 2 m fern. Bracken is a genus of large, coarse ferns.  Ferns  are vascular plants that have alternating generations, large plants that produce spores and small plants that produce sex cells (eggs and sperm). Brackens are noted for their large, highly divided leaves. Bracken is typically fern-like, producing triangular fronds, divided into three, that can reach over 1.5m (5ft) in height. It can be easily recognised by its branched fronds which appear in spring and are green when mature. In autumn the fronds turn reddish-brown and die back to ground level, with new fronds unfurling from the base in spring.

Habitat: native British fern commonly found in woodland and heathland.  It is a large fern that favours dry, acid soils

Germander Speedwell, Veronica chamaedrys

Figwort Family

Perennial up to 20 cm tall. Creeping and ascending hairy stems. Leaves are oval with a heart base, opposite, toothed and hairy. Flowers are bright blue with a white eye. The stigma points down and the stamens to the side. The flowers are in loose, long stalked clusters growing from the axils of the upper leaves. The flowers are pollinated by hover-flies.

Flowering Season: Mar – August

Habitat: Open Woodland, grassland, meadows, scrub

Buttercup, Ranunclus

Buttercup Family

Buttercups are plants with alternate leaves and yellow flowers. They have 5 or 3 green sepals, 5 petals, many stamens, and many tiny carpels.

Flowering Season: May – August

Habitat: Very common in most habitats

So there we have it – my Endure 24 Wildflower Challenge was complete. 24 wildflowers spotted within the 24 hour period. I loved this event and plan to go back next year. Can I rise to my own challenge and spot a different 24 varieties?!  I hope my knee will be better and I will also be able to run more of my laps rather then take part with a relaxed amble.

As a team we really did enjoy ourselves, crossing the finish line together. Mr Smiles was chuffed with his first ever running medal.  We can’t wait for next year!

Photo credit Epicactionimagery

 

 

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Chelsea Blues

 

Meconopsis Lingholm – Kevock Garden Plants

I spent a wonderful Patsy Smiles kind of day at RHS Chelsea flower Show last week. I went with the flow and missed most of the Show Gardens and avoided pretentious conversation. If the concept behind a garden design needs to be explained then it just doesn’t work for me. Nevertheless I came home full of inspiration. It’s the little details that caught my eye rather than the big picture. 

My favourite Chelsea blooms this year were the azure blue of Meconopsis Lingholm on the Kevock Garden plant stand. I’ve never seen a blue poppy before so was fascinated by these beauties. Turquoise blue is a bit like marmite as it is such a vibrant, zingy colour. I love the colour and chose to use it in my branding. For me turquoise represents the sea and happy sunny holidays. I spent some time on the Kevock stand admiring the gorgeous colour palette. I realised that there had been some very deliberate planting of colour combinations. I chose to use turquoise blue, lime green and coral in my branding.

The coral of the Primula japonica Apple Blossom made the blue more noticeable as blue and orange are complementary colours.

Complementary Colours are colours that are opposite to each other on the colour wheel. When used together they stand out and create contrast. For example orange and blue, yellow and violet, red and green.

Colour Wheel

In part of the display I spotted a Triadic Colour Scheme with the blue Meconopsis, coral Primula japonica Apple blossom and yellow Trollius.  By adding yellow into the mix and combining with the blue and coral  Kevock created a visually appealing Triadic Colour Scheme. This scheme is made up of 3 colours evenly spaced around the colour wheel. The best way to create this colour harmony is to choose one colour to dominate with less of a second and a touch of the third or a mix of tints, tones and shades.

The Alpine Garden Society also had a fantastic display of Meconopsis and launched a new lavishly illustrated book at RHS Chelsea. `Meconopsis for Gardeners. The lure of the Blue Poppy.’

I opted for a couple of books which I will find more useful. Having chatted to the friendly exhibitors on the Kevock stand I realised that meconopsis will not grow well in our garden. Much more useful for me to buy a couple of wildflower Field Guides.  The Harrap’s guide has good photographs and the other book will be invalauble for Mediterranean holidays.

Other than the poppies I was rather taken with a plant called Anchusa azurea Lodden Royalist. It is rather similar to the wildflower bugloss I have spotted in the countryside, but with a bit more drama. A lot of designers chose to use this plant to create a wild, natural effect.

I saw quite a few examples of Anchusa used as a backdrop to make orange flowers stand out,  as can be seen here with the orange of the Oenothera versicolor ‘Sunset Boulevard’ against the blue.

I made a note of these little gems too. Omphalodes cappadocica ‘cherry ingram’ reminds me of tiny Speedwell wildflowers I have seen recently. I thought the blue flowers looked very pretty in a shady, woodland spot

I was attracted to the lemon yellow and blue colour combinations in this display. I might not be able to grow Meconopsis in our garden as they are quite tricky to grow. However I come home full of inspiration to incorporate the colour blue in future garden projects.

 

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1920s – a Head for Fashion

Wedding gowns often reflect the fashions of their era and so photos from the 1920s can be dated by various clues such as sleeve style, neck line and dress length. Some brides did choose to wear their mother’s or grandmother’s wedding gown which can be misleading. However if the bride wore an older style dress she often updated her hair style and veil. In group wedding photos the attire of the bridesmaids and wedding guests can also provide useful information as to the date.

1920s Bridal Head-dress

1920s veil

Bridal Headgear

At the beginning of the Twentieth century Bridal Head-gear was worn much higher than later the in the 1920s.

1900 Rosina Nelson
1907 Rose Merry
1910 Bridal Veil
1918 Dorothy Carter
1900
1907
1910
1918

 

In the 1920s Mob caps were  fashionable as bridal headdresses. A mob cap was a large cap or bonnet covering much of the hair, typically of light cotton with a frilled edge. Sometimes it was tied under the chin with ribbon and was worn indoors by women in the 18th and early 19th centuries. In the Victorian period, mob caps had become the head covering of servants and nurses. However the 1920s saw a resurgence of the mob cap in bridal wear.

mob-cap
mob-cap

 

1921-wedding-dorothy-greaves-and-william-shaw

 1921 Dorothy Greaves – Mob Cap style headdress and veil

Later in the 1920s brides favoured lace cloche headdresses, some of which would be encircled with flowers. Veils were usually made of silk materials and decorated with flowers and leaves. Orange Blossom was often used to decorate the head-dress.

Tiaras, veils and headbands were all worn low over the forehead in the 1920s.

1922-double-wedding

1922 Double Wedding with veils worn low over the forehead.

A Juliet cap was a small open-work crocheted or mesh cap, often decorated with pearls or beads and worn with evening gowns and bridal wear. The cap was named after the heroine of  Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and was often worn with a long cathedral-length veil in the 1920’s. 

1929 People's Home Journal

1929 People’s Home Journal

1928-juliet-cap-and-crysanthemeum-bouquet

Western Morning NewsMonday 10 December 1928

1928 Juliet Cap of lace and pearls

1928-bridal-head-dresses

1927-wedding-faashion

In the 1920s White Russian emigres fleeing revolution and civil war influenced the fashion scene. Thousands of Russians fled to escape the Bolshevik revolution and many immigrant women found work in French couture houses using their skills in embroidery and knowledge of traditional Russian patterns. Designs influenced by Russian peasant costumes became popular. One fashionable design was based on a Russian girl’s headdress called a kokoshnik.

kokoshnik-style-headdress
kokoshnik-headdress
1926-kokoshnik-style-headdress

In 1922 the heiress Edwina Ashley married Lord Louis Mountbatten  and wore a Russian inspired pointed coronet.

1922-mountbatten-wedding

Miss Irene Hill was noted as having a `fashionable wedding’ in India and wore a Russian coronet of orange-blossom.

1925-russian-coronet

Exeter and Plymouth GazetteTuesday 25 August 1925

I am fascinated by this wonderful photo taken of Helen Fry Kingston wearing a most impressive Russian kokoshnik style headdress at her wedding in Queensland, Australia in 1929.

1929 Perrett Kingston Wedding

1929 Helen Fry Kingston and Francis J Perrett

At another 1929 wedding Minnie East has a much simpler headdress. However it is still worn low down 1920s style.

1929-v-neckline

1929 Minnie East

1927-new-ideas-for-bridal-veil

Western Morning NewsFriday 01 April 1927

1921 Bridal Veil
1922 Bridal veil
1922 Edwina Ashley
1923 Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon
1921
1922
1922
1923
1925 Bridal Veil and Orange Blossom
1927 Louisa George Bridal Veil
1929 Minnie East Wedding Veil
1929 Perrett Kingston Wedding Head-dress
1925
1927
1929
1929

 

Picture Hats

picturehat

Alternatively a hat was worn by the bride and or bridesmaids. We often see wide-brimmed picture hats until mid decade when the neat cloche became the most fashionable style.

Larger picture-hats were often called vagabond style.

1927-grey-vagabond-hats

Dundee Evening TelegraphWednesday 12 October 1927

1920-black-picture-hats

Chelmsford ChronicleFriday 20 August 1920 

 

1922-harold-hawes-and-lily-fincham

1922 Wedding party with wide-brimmed Picture hats

1927-picture-hats

1923 Picture hats

1922-bridal-illustration

At this wedding reported in 1929 the bride wore a black velvet picture hat and the bridesmaid wore the newer style cloche hat.

1929-pink-bridesmaiddress-and-black-cloche-hat

Cloche hats

cloche-hats

The cloche hat or simply cloche was a fitted, bell-shaped hat for women that was invented in 1908 by milliner Caroline Reboux. They became popular from about 1922 to 1933. The name is derived from cloche, the French word for “bell”. A Cloche hat had a basic bell contour with a bulbous crown which if correctly designed could add inches to the height of the wearer. The hat had to be all but pulled over the eyes, making the wearer have to lift up the head, whilst peering snootily down the nose. Brims became smaller as the decade progressed.

1922-hats
1926 Cloche Hats
1920s-cloche-hats
1927 Cloche Hats

I have found references to not only ivory and black coloured cloche hats worn by brides and bridesmaids, but also a lot of colour.

1920s-cloche-hats

1925 Edith Punchard wore an ivory lace cloche with clusters of pale yellow flowers

1925-cloche-hat-wedding

Exeter and Plymouth GazetteThursday 21 May 1925

1925 Bride Hilda Webber wore a blue & silver shot cloche hat trimmed with forget-me-nots.

1925-cloche-hats-and-forget-me-knots

Exeter and Plymouth GazetteTuesday 28 April 1925

1924 small blue cloche hat trimmed with tuft of paradise feathers.

1924-blue-cloche-hat-and-petunia-feathers

North Devon JournalThursday 12 June 1924

blue-cloche-hat

Blue seemed to be a popular colour choice influenced by the royal weddings in the early 1920s. Princess Mary chose blue as the colour for her bridesmaid dresses and the colour became known as Princess Mary blue.

1922-princess-marys-bridesmaid-veils

Grantham JournalSaturday 25 February 1922

Many brides wore a veil for the marriage ceremony, but chose to wear a cloche hat to go on honeymoon.

Bridesmaids veils

Another interesting feature of 1920s weddings is that bridesmaids sometimes wore veils! This can make it difficult to distinguish the bride in photos.

1922-princess-mary-bridesmaid-veils

1922-princess-mary-bridesmaid-veils

1922 Princess Mary’s bridesmaid veils

Nancy Davidson chose veils of primrose-coloured net for her bridesmaids to tone with their primrose coloured chiffon dresses fastened with blue sashes. They carried bouquets of blue delphiniums. I was delighted to have found these descriptions. Black and White photos look so drab and give no impression of the colours.

1929-bridesmaid-bouquets-of-delphiniums

Sheffield IndependentThursday 20 June 1929

Winifred Griffiths also favoured blue as a colour. Her bridesmaids wore blue  satin dresses with head dresses of blue net fastened with wreaths of forget me nots.

1929-blue-net

Buckingham Advertiser and Free PressSaturday 25 May 1929

1924-bridesmaid-veils

In the 1920s bridesmaids did sometimes wear white veils which were very similar to the bride. While in modern times a bridesmaid is expected to assist the bride, her duties were regarded as of a more serious nature in earlier days. A custom once existed where maidens dressed similarly to the bride would accompany her as her protectors on her way to the groom’s village. This would deflect spurned suitors from kidnapping the bride or from stealing her dowry. Roman law once required witnesses to come to weddings in order to confuse evil spirits as to the identity of the bride and groom. This meant that female wedding attendants came to a marriage ceremony in garments very similar to the bride’s, This supposedly threw off bad luck that could be directed towards an easily identifiable bride and groom. In the 1920s it seems to be more of a case of fashion being influenced by the past than superstition influencing fashion.

Bandeau Headpieces

1920s-bride

During the first half of the 1920s women wore decorative bands across the forehead with evening and party dresses and this head decoration was reflected in bridal headpieces. Bridal Fashion introduced Bandeau headdresses in the later 1920s.

1925-lady-edith

1928-bridesmaid-fashion-wreath-of-flowers

Derby Daily TelegraphFriday 07 December 1928 

However clearly this Derbyshire vicar had strong views on `Modern Wedding Attire’. I’m therefore sure that Lady Edith would have kept her veil on for her wedding and not just worn a bandeau.

1925-edith-crawley-3

 

Flower girls – mob caps and dutch caps

There was also a fashion to have young flower girls in addition to bridesmaids. Little girls carrying flower baskets might wear puff-sleeved dresses and mob caps, emulating  the historical Kate Greenaway style.

1929-net-caps-and-silver-leaves

Western Daily PressMonday 24 June 1929

1929-mob-caps

1927-mob-cap-1

1927louisa-george-and-joseph-bliss-rance

1927-louisa-george-and-joseph-bliss-rance

1927 Wedding Louisa George

Not only the small flower girls, but also the chief bridesmaid is wearing a simple mob cap at this wedding. I must admit they look like  shower caps to me!

1924-pink-dresses-with-lace-mob-caps

Western Morning NewsWednesday 11 June 1924

1926-edith-amelia-polglass-and-charles-arthur-furley-group

1926 Edith Amelia Polglass Wedding

1929-bridesmaid-hats-1

1925  I much prefer the flower girls bonnets chosen by Dorothy Jones

Dutch Caps

Another distinctive bridesmaids head wear was the wired cap with horizontal wings that resembled a Dutch head-dress. This style looks like a fashion faux pas to me. However Edwina Ashley chose Dutch caps for her bridesmaids dresses when she married Louis Mountbatten so maybe I’m missing something!

1922-edwina-ashley-dutch-caps

Western Morning NewsTuesday 18 July 1922

 

1922-bridesmaid-headgear
1922-dutch-caps-1

 

1922-mountbatten-1

 

1927-dutch-hats

Western Morning NewsTuesday 13 December 1927 

Hopefully I have given a few clues to identifying 1920s wedding photos from the headgear worn.  Next time I will be looking at the dresses themselves.

1922-double-wedding-1

1922 Double wedding of siblings William and Jane Pomfret

1922

 

 

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Mallorcan Flowers

Plumnbago Watercolour
Bougainvillea watercolour
Lantana camera sketch

Last month I had a wonderful relaxing holiday staying at the Monnaber Nou Hotel in the middle of the Mallorcan countryside. The name Monnaber means ‘Hill of Flowers’ and the hotel is surrounded by a beautiful landscape of fruit trees typical of Mallorca including almonds, figs, pomegranate, carobs and olives.

monnaber nou sketch

Monnaber Nou itself had an abundance of flowers for me to enjoy. I had a wonderful time pottering with my sketchbook, wildflower books and my camera.

Holiday Sketchbook

Latana camera is widely cultivated and naturalised in Mallorca. The shrub can grow up to 1.5m. The flowers are usually yellow or orange, changing to red, or all yellow or all red. I spotted some very pretty pink and mauve flowers too. The fruit is a small black berry.

Lantana camera sketch

Lantana camera sketch

lantana

lantanalantana

 

lantana-43-2
lantana

 

Hibiscus rosa-sinensis is an impressive exotic looking deciduous shrub growing up to 3m. The leaves are deep green and shiny. The flowers are  bright rose-red with prominent protruding red staminal column and stigmas. The shrub is widely planted in parks and gardens or along roadsides. Other colours include apricot, white, cream, pink and yellow.

hibiscus

hibiscushibiscus-mallorca

Hibiscus watercolour
mallorcan-watercolour-36

Hibiscus watercolour

Hibiscus pen and wash

hibiscusMallorcan Posy

It’s always a very pleasant challenge sketching by the pool whilst drinking a cocktail or two on holiday!

monnaber nou campanet

monnaber nou campanet

mallorcan-watercolour

I am particularly fond of the beautiful magenta climber Bougainvillea. It’s one of those plants which symbolises sunny, Mediterranean holidays to me. The flowers themselves are actually insignificant whitish blooms, but surrounded by large leaf-like purple bracts.

Bougainvillea

Bougainvillea
Bougainvillea watercolour

 

Bougainvillea

Bougainvillea Posy

 

In the grounds of Monnaber Nou I spotted the aptly named Four O’Clock Plant, Mirabilis jalapa. It is so named because its flowers usually open in the afternoon. The one I spotted liked to open an hour later at Five O’Clock!

four-oclock-plant
Four-o clock-plant
four-oclock-plant

Another flowering shrub frequently planted in gardens and on roadsides is Oleander. The flowers can be pink, red or white and grow in dense clusters. The Oleander flowers through the height of Summer when many other Mediterranean plants are past their best.

Oleander

 

 

oleander
oleander
oleander

mallorcan-watercolour

The other Mallorcan flowering shrub I am particularly fond of is Cape Leadwort or Plumbago auriculata. This scrambling shrub has beautiful sky-blue flowers. I remember picking a few snippets of Plumbago and Jasmine to decorate my favourite sunhat last year.

Mallocan Hat

plumbagoplumbagoPlumnbago Watercolourplumbago

I spotted quite a few vibrant blue Mallorcan flowers this year. At home I valiantly battle to try to eradicate the bindweed in our garden. However Morning Glory, Ipomoea purpurea is in the same family and really is very attractive with it’s bright blue flowers.  It has naturalised in hedges and roadsides in Mallorca and is also grown in gardens

morning-glory

morning-glory

morning-glorymallorcan-watercolour

Another tiny blue flower that caught my eye was the Blue Pimpernel. It was poking through the wooden slats near the pool and I almost missed it. It was close to a Scarlet Pimpernel, Anagallis arvensis which got me quite excited!

blue-pimpernel
mallorcan-watercolour
scarlet-pimpernel
scarlet-pimpernel

Mallorcan countrytside

Mallorcan sketch

Campanet

The hills behind Monnaber Nou are very rugged and the ground was completely parched in September. I enjoyed a few early morning runs amongst the olive and carob trees. There wasn’t much to be seen in flower except the very brown looking Carlina thistle, Carlina corymbosa. I didn’t think this thistle was very attractive until I looked more closely. Then I saw the beauty of the fluffy, yellow flowers. This thistle likes dry, stony places.

carline-thistle
carline-thistle
carline-thistle
carline-thistle

Carlina corymbosa

carob-tree

Mallorcan countryside

 

On a couple of afternoons I had a stroll with my camera and saw Sea Squill, Urginea maritima. Sea Squill is one of the Mediterranean’s characteristic plants. It flowers in late Summer after the glossy leaves have died away. It grows from a huge bulb, up to 15 cm across, which is often half buried in the ground. The flowering stem gradually develops after the leaves have withered and can be up to 150 cm high. This bears several hundred star like flowers.

sea-squill

sea-squill
sea-squill
sea-squill

 

Sea Squill SketchSea Squill Sketch

Another plant adapted to the climate and steep rocky ground is the Century Plant, Agave americana. This is a very robust perennial, up to 7 m tall in flower. The bluish grey-green leaves are very large, spear shaped and form basal rosettes close to the ground.

agave

 

agave

agave

Many species of Cactus are cultivated including the Prickly Pears, Opuntia ficus-indica. Found on rocky hillslopes, cliffs and roadsides. It was introduced from the Americas by Christopher Columbus. The fruits are often seen for sale in markets.

prickly-pear

Prickly Pears

In the grounds at Monnaber I also spotted a Squirting Cucumber, Ecballium elaterium. The small green fruit, like a small cucumber explodes suddenly when ripe, squirting the seeds out in a pulpy liquid.

squirting-cucumber
squirting-cucumber

This is just a taste of the flowers I saw on my holidays this year. I hope you enjoyed my Mallorcan  Floral snippets as much as I did!

Flower Sketch

 

 

 

Mallorcan Posy

monnaber nou campanet

 

Monnaber Nou Hotel, Campanet, Mallorca

 

 

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July Wildflowers

Spear Thistle
July Wildflower Sketch
Common Poppy Sketch

  Oxfordshire Field Margins 

Chicory Sketch
Chicory, Cichorium intybus

Daisy Family

Erect, stiff branched stems 30 – 100 cm. Leaves lanceolate and pointed. Flowerheads 2.5 – 4 cm wide on thick short stalks. Florets bright blue. 2 rows of bracts, inner bracts longer, erect, outer row shorter.

Flowering Season: July to October

Habitat: Grassland, roadsides and banks. Calc. soils.

Chicory

Chicory

Chicory

 

 

Common Poppy Sketch

Common Poppy, Papaver rhoeas

Poppy Family

Bristly erect annual, 20 – 60 cm tall. Pinnate leaves. Flower heads 7-10 cm across with scarlet petals, often with a dark basal blotch. Capsule globular.

Flowering Season: June to August

Habitat: arable, wasteland, roadsides and bare ground.

Common Poppy
Common Poppy

Common Poppy

 

 

 

Hogweed

Hogweed, Heracleum sphondylium

Carrot Family

Robust, roughly hairy perennial plant growing up to 250 cm. Hollow, ridged stems with downward pointing hairs. Grey-green leaves 15 – 60 cm. Flowers white or pinkish.

Flowering Season: May – August

Habitat: roadsides, hedge banks, grassland, waste places and open woodland.

Hogweed

Wild Parsnip

 

Wild Parsnip, Pastinaca sativa

Carrot Family

Erect, downy, branched perennial growing up to 100 cm. Hollow, furrowed and angled stems . Grey-green leaves 15 – 60 cm. Flowers yellow

Poisonous – sap causes severe blisters due to skin becoming hyper sensitive to sunlight.

Flowering Season: June – August

Habitat: roadsides, grassland, waste places and scrubland especially on dry calc. soils. Widespread in S Britain, rare in the North.

Wild Parsnip
Wild Parsnip

 

 

Ragwort Sketch

 

 

 

Ragwort, Senecio jacobea

Daisy Family

Stout, erect, leafy furrowed stems 30 -100 cm.  Stems branch towards top. Leaves pinnately lobed with large blunt end lobe. Flower heads 15 -25 mm in diameter aggregated into flattish-topped umbel-like clusters. Bright yellow.  12 – 15 ray florets.

Highly poisonous.

Flowering Season: June – October

Habitat: Very common on neglected grassland, roadsides, wasteland and dunes.

Ragwort

Ragwort

 

Ragwort Small-16

Mallow, Malva sylvestris

Mallow Family

Robust plant, stems 45 – 90 cm, erect or spreading. Leaves sparsely hairy, palmately lobed, the lobes shallowly toothed. Flowers stalked, in axillary clusters up the stem. Petals 12 – 30 mm, rose purple with darker veins. Petals are 2 – 4 times the length of the sepals.

Flowering Season: June – September

Habitat: Roadsides, wasteland and hedgebanks.

Mallow

 

Mallow

 

Spear Thistle

Spear Thistle, Cirsium vulgare

Daisy Family

Erect stems 30 – 150 cm. Stems branched above with spiny wings. Basal leaves 15 – 30 cm long, shortly stalked, deeply pinnatified, wavy edged and toothed. Lobes and teeth with long stout spines. Stem leaves are stalkless, smaller, with long terminal lobes. All leaves are prickly-hairy above and not shiny. A few flower-heads are in loose clusters. Others are solitary. The heads are 2 – 5 cm long and 2.5 – 4 cm wide. The outer bracts are green with long, arched-back yellow spine-tips. The florets are pink-purple. The pappus are feathered. `Pappus’ are the tuft of hairs on each seed of thistles, dandelions, and similar plants, which assists dispersal by the wind.

Flowering Season: July – October

Habitat: Very common on neglected grassland, roadsides, wasteland and open woodland.

Spear Thistle

Spear Thistle

Spear Thistle

 

Creeping ThistleCreeping Thistle

Creeping Thistle, Cirsium arvense

Daisy Family

Creeping perennial with erect, branched, furrowed, spineless stems 30 – 90 cm tall. Leaves are oblong-lanceolate, with strong slender spines on their wavy and toothed edges. The upperside is usually hairless and grey-green in colour. The leaves are cottony beneath. The lower leaves are stalked, the upper spines clasp the stem. The flower-heads are in open clusters, 1.5cm – 2.5 cm long  and 1cm wide. The flower bracts are purplish and oval in shape, with spreading spine-tips. The florets are mauve or white.

Flowering Season: July – September

Habitat: Very common on neglected grassland, roadsides, wasteland and arable field margins.

Creeping Thistle

 

Creeping Thistle

Creeping Thistle

 

 

July Wildflower sketch

 

Meadows and Grassland

 

Oxeye Daisy

Oxeye Daisy, Leucanthemum vulgare

Daisy Family

Erect, slightly hairy little branched perennial. Basal rosette of long-stalked spoon-shaped, toothed leaves. Stem leaves are stalkless, clasping, alternate, deeply toothed and dark green in colour. The flower-heads are long-stalked, daisy-like, 2-5 – 6 cm across. The ray-florets are white and the disc-florets are yellow.

Flowering Season: May – September

Habitat: Meadows, roadsides, grassland, on fertile soils.

Ox Eye Daisy

July Wildflower Sketch

Buttercup

 

 

Buttercup, Ranunclus

Buttercup Family

Buttercups are plants with alternate leaves and yellow flowers. They have 5 or 3 green sepals, 5 petals, many stamens, and many tiny carpels.

Flowering Season: May – August

Habitat: Very common in most habitats

 

Buttercup

 

Lady's Bedstraw

Lady’s Bedstraw, Galium verum

Bedstraw Family

Perennial with creeping stems at base. Flower stems erect, 15 – 60 cm tall. Leaves linear. Corollas 2 – 3 mm across, golden-yellow with pointed lobes.

Flowering Season: July – August

Habitat: grassland, hedge banks and dunes.

Lady's Bedstraw

Field ScabiousField Scabious

 

Field Scabious, Knautia arvensis

Basal leaves roughly-hairy, usually unlobed, but often blunt-toothed. Stem leaves deeply pinnatified, with course hairy segments. Flower heads 3 – 4 cm wide, stalks stout (2 – 3 mm), 8 calyx-teeth, corollas blue-violet with 4 unequal lobes.

Flowering Season: July – September

Habitat: roadsides, dry grassland and meadows.

Field Scabious

Field Scabious

Ragwort

Meadow Cranesbill Sketch

 

Meadow Cranesbill, Geranium pratense

Geranium Family

Erect hairy perennial 30  – 80 cm. Basal leaves 5 – 7 times palmately lobed. Saucer- shaped flowers in pairs. Petals 15 – 18mm, violet-blue to sky blue, unnotched, veins paler.

Flowering Season: June – September

Habitat: roadsides, meadows, grassland, especially on calc soils.

Meadow Cranesbill
Meadow Cranesbill
Meadow Cranesbill

 

 

Corn Mint

Corn Mint, Mentha arvensis

Dead-Nettle Family

Downy perennial 10 – 30 cm tall. `Peppery’ mint scent when bruised. Leaves are rounded to elliptical, blunt-tipped and hairy. Flowers in separated dense whorls in leaf axils. Corolla mauve, stamens projecting.

Flowering Season: May – October

Habitat: Common but possibly declining in meadows, woods and arable.

Corn Mint

Riverbanks and Marshland

Water Mint

Water Mint, Mentha aquatica

Dead-Nettle Family

Downy, erect perennial, 15 – 60 cm tall. Leaves opposite, oval with bunt tips and teeth. Leaves fresh mint scented. Terminal rounded flower-head often with extra whorls below. Calyx tube hairy. Corolla mauve, stamens projecting from flowers.

Flowering Season: July – October

Habitat: Very common in marshes, fens, wet woods and by fresh water.

 

 

Marsh Woundwort

Marsh Woundwort, Stachys palustris

Dead-Nettle Family

Odourless bristly perennial, with creeping rhizome and erect stems, 30 – 80 cm. Leaves lanceolate or oblong, 5 – 12 cm long. Flowers are pink-purple in colour with a white pattern on the lip. Hybridizes with Hedge Woundwort.

Flowering Season: July – September

Habitat: Riverbanks and marshes

Marsh Woundwort

Marsh Woundwort

 

Hedge Woundwort

Hedge Woundwort, Stachys sylvatica

Dead-Nettle Family

Harsh smelling bristly perennial, with creeping rhizome and erect stems, 30 – 80 cm. Leaves oval-cordate, 4 – 9 cm long. Calyx has rigid triangular teeth.Flowers are beetroot-red in colour with a white pattern on the lip.

Flowering Season: July – September

Habitat: Woods and hedgebanks.

Hedge Woundwort

 

Purple Loosestrife

Purple Loosestrife, Lythrum salicaria

Purple-Loosestrife Family

Downy erect perennial, up to 1.5m. Stems bearing 4 or more raised lines. Leaves oval-lanceolate, 40 – 70 mm long, unstalked, pointed and untoothed, in opposite pairs, or whorls of 3 below and alternate above. Flowers 10 – 15 mm in diameter, in long terminal spike. 6 red-purple petals and 12 stamens.

Flowering Season: May – August

Habitat: Water- margins, fens and damp grassland.

Purple LoosestrifePurple Loosestrife

Purple Loosestrife

 

Great Willowherb

Great Willowherb, Epilobium hirsutum

Willowherb Family

Tall perennial up to 2m. Round stems, densely downy with spreading hairs. Leaves opposite, oblong-lanceolate up to 12 cm long. Large flowers, strong purplish-pink colour up to 25 mm in diameter, in loose, leafy terminal inflorescence. Stigma with 4 arching creamy lobes.

Flowering Season: July – August

Habitat: Damp places often amongst tall vegetation.Fens, marshes, river banks and damp wasteland.

Great Willowherb

Great Willowherb

Great Willowherb

 

Indian Balsam

Indian Balsam, Impatiens glandulifera

Balsam Family

Tall annual up to 2 m. Can be branched or unbranched, with reddish stem. Leaves lanceolate to elliptical up to 18 cm long. Opposite or in whorls of 3. Flowers purplish-pink or white, up to 40 mm long, with short curved spur. Fruit club-shaped. Naturalised from the Himalayas.

Flowering Season: July – October

Habitat: Riverbanks and damp or shady wasteground.

Indian Balsam

 

Meadowsweet

Meadow Sweet, Filipendula ulmaria

Rose Family

Perennial up to 1.2 m. Pinnate leaves, oval, pointed and sharp toothed, 30 – 60 cm long. The leaves are dark green and hairless above  and white-woolly or pale green and downy below. Leaf stalks smell strongly of germoline. Flowers in dense irregular umbel-like inflorescence consisting of dense showy panicles of many creamy, fragrant flowers, each 4 – 8 mm in diameter. There are usually 5 sepals, 5 petals and many stamens.

Flowering Season: June – September

Habitat: Widespread in a variety of damp and wet habitats including marshes, fens, stream sides, ditches, wet open woodland and by rivers on less acid soils.

Meadowsweet

Meadowsweet

 

Wasteland

Bramble Sketch
Selfheal
Bristly Oxtongue

Bristly Oxtongue, Picris echoides

Daisy Family

Annual or biennial with furrowed bristly branched stems up to 90 cm. Basal leaves oblong, narrowing into stalk. Upper stem leaves narrower with clasping leaves covered with swollen bristles. Thickly covered with blister-like bristles with swollen white bases. Bright yellow flower heads 20 – 25 mm in diameter in loose groups.  Outermost 3- 5 bracts leaf-like and triangular, much broader than inner bracts.

Flowering Season: June – October

Habitat: Hedgebanks, grassland, wasteground, disturbed ground and drier coastal habitats

Bristly Oxtongue

Bristly Oxtongue
Bristly Oxtongue

 

 

Viper's BuglossViper's Bugloss

Viper’s Bugloss, Echium vulgare

Borage Family

Roughly bristly biennial with an erect stem up to 80 cm, dotted with red bristles. Stem leaves stalk- less and rounded at bases. Flowers in curved clusters in bract axils up the stem, forming a large panicle. The buds are pink, resembling clusters of tiny grapes. The flowers are usually bright blue or blue-violet. Funnel shaped corolla, 5 stamens, 4 of them long and protruding from the flower. 5 somewhat unequal petal lobes. Fruit rough nutlets.

Flowering Season: June – August

Habitat: Open dry grassland often near the coast, sand and chalk, dunes and cliffs. Frequently on light or calcareous soils.

Viper's BuglossViper's Bugloss

 

 

Bramble Sketch

Bramble, Rubus fructicosus

Rose Family

Numerous microspecies of bramble. Differ in stem armament and hair distribution. Brambles are a genus of scrambling, erect or creeping shrubs, mostly spiny, leaves undivided, or usually with 3 – 5 pinnately or palmately arranged leaflets. 1 – 3 m, with usually arching and angled stems bearing hooked spines, prickles and hairs. Flowers are white or pink, in panicles on the ends of last year’s stems. Berries start green maturing to red then shiny black or purple-red.

Flowering Season: May – September

Habitat: Very common in scrub, woods, wasteland, hedgebanks. Often highly invasive if unmanaged.

Bramble

Bramble

Bramble

 

Butterfly Bush

Butterfly-bush, Buddleja davidii

Butterfly-Bush Family

Shrub up to 5 m. Opposite leaves lanceolate to ovate, usually toothed, white downy below. Small, fragrant, mauve-purple flowers in a dense spike-like panicle. 4 petals fused into a tube with 4 stamens.

Flowering Season: April – August

Habitat: Very common on wasteland, neglected grassland, railways, roadsides and urban areas. Prefers dry, disturbed ground. Introduced from China. Very invasive.

Butterfly Bush-

 

Rosebay Willowherb

Rosebay Willowherb, Chamerion lutiana

Willowherb Family

Tall, erect perennial up to 120 cm. Nearly hairless. Lanceolate alternate leaves, spirally arranged up the stem. Flowers rose-purple, 2 – 3 cm across, borne in spikes. 2 upper petals are broader than the lower. Stigma is four lobed and stamens  bend down eventually.

Flowering Season: July – September

Habitat: Locally abundant on wasteland, woods and railway embankments.

Rosebay Willowherb

Rosebay Willowherb

 

Selfheal

Selfheal, Prunella vulgaris

Dead-Nettle Family

Sparsely downy perennial with creeping runners and erect flowering stems up to 20 cm tall. Oval leaves, widest at the base, untoothed and pointed. Inflorescence is a dense oblong head, with hairy purplish bracts, purplish calyx with 3 teeth. Very short flattened upper lip with bristles. Corolla 10 – 14 mm long, violet, rarely white or pink.

Flowering Season: June – October

Habitat: Very common on grassland, roadsides, wasteland and woods.

Selfheal

Selfheal

 

Old Man's Beard

Old Man’s Beard, Clematis vitalba

Buttercup Family

Woody climber with peeling fibrous bark. Opposite, pinnate compound leaves with narrow oval pointed, usually toothed leaflets. Fragrant creamy-white flowers 2 cm across in loose clusters. Flowers in leaf axils, with 4 greenish-creamy sepals, hairy outside and inside and many stamens. Develop long white plumed styles.

Flowering Season: July – August

Habitat: Widespread and common in hedgerows, woodland and scrub on chalk and limestone.

Old Man's Beard

Mallow

 

Purple Toadflax

Purple Toadflax, Linaria purpurea

Figwort Family

Toadflaxes have spurred corollas, with their throats closed by a 2 lobed swelling on the lower lip, called the palate. Erect grey-green leaved hairless perennial. Flowers are in long racemes, corollas violet, unstriped, 8 mm long, with long curved spur.

Flowering Season: June – October

Habitat: A garden escape on old walls and wasteland.

Purple Toadflax

Purple Toadflax

Wild TeaselWild Teasel

Teasel, Dipsacus fullonum

Teasel Family

Stout biennial, up to 2 m. In first year produces a leaf rosette of short-stalked, oblong-laneolate leaves with swollen-based prickles. In second year very prickly, branched stem with opposite, long narrow lanceolate leaves. The leaves join in a cup at the base of each pair that collects rainwater. Flowerheads 3  -8 cm long, egg-shaped. Bracts below head are linear, rigid and spiny, 5 – 9 cm long. Pink-purple corollas 5 – 7 mm long.

Flowering Season: July – August

Habitat: Wasteland, open woods, stream banks, roadsides and grassland especially on clay soils.

Wild Teasel

 

Hedge Bindweed

Hedge Bindweed, Calystegia sepium

Bindweed Family

Creeping and climbing plant, climbing to 3 m or more. Aternate leaves up to 15 cm long. Large white flowers, longer than calyx lobes.

Flowering Season: July – September

Habitat: Wasteland, hedgebanks, scrub, woodland borders and fens.

Hedge Bindweed

Field Bindweed

Field Bindweed, Convolvulus arvensis

Bindweed Family

Creeping and climbing perennial with hairless stems arising from stout fleshy underground stems. Alternate leaves 2 -5 cm long, oblong- arrow-shaped and stalked. White and pink trumpet-shaped flowers, 30 mm across. Calyx 5 lobed.

Flowering Season: June – September

Habitat: Wasteland, hedgebanks, arable, roadsides, grassland and near the coast. A serious weed in gardens.

Field Bindweed

 

Meadow Cranesbill Sketch
Bramble Sketch
Selfheal

 

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Victorian Florist-Gardeners

Victorian Epergne

The Victorian Era turned away from the elegance of the Georgian Era and brought houses jam-packed full of clutter. From simplicity and elegance we moved to richness and opulence. At no other time had flowers and foliage been used in such abundance.

Victorian Gardens

The Victorian’s love of order and control influenced a more formal style of gardening. Bedding schemes with plants laid out in rows and colour patterns were seen as the height of style in the mid 19th century. Mid Victorians liked brilliant-hued flowers and strong colour contrasts rather than harmonious colour schemes. Garden design was brash and bold. With the rise of the middle classes and their neat suburban villas, this ‘bedding boom’ reached even the small suburban garden with brash displays in island beds placed right in the middle of lawns.

Waddesdon Victorian Bedding

The removal of tax on glass in 1845 meant that there was an increase in the building of glasshouses and conservatories which coincided with growing and collecting of exotic, tender plants.

Plant hunters and the Wardian Case

The entire 19th century was a period of great enthusiasm for flowers, plants and gardening.  People became avid collectors of certain plants, specializing in popular plants such as geraniums, fuchsias and camellias. A whole range of plants which had never been seen before were introduced. These included South African Gladiolus,  Mexican dahlias, nasturtiums, azaleas, camellias, tree peonies, roses from China, chrysanthemums and fuchsia.  It was the Era of ferns and houseplants.

Victorian Interior

The Wardian case was an early type of sealed protective container for plants invented by botanist, Dr. Nathaniel Bagshaw Ward.  It found great use in the 19th century in protecting foreign plants imported to Europe from overseas.  Wardian cases soon became features of stylish drawing rooms. In the polluted air of Victorian cities the craze for growing ferns and orchids owed much to the new Wardian cases.

Wardian Case
Victorian Plants

Primrose in Wardian Case 1858 Greenock Advertiser

1858 Greenock Advertiser

In grand houses the Head Gardener had the important task of arranging large quantities of flowers for the house with flowers from the cutting garden. The Head Gardener often had a Flower Room amongst a group of buildings in the walled garden attached to the glasshouses. The room contained a table close to a window, a sink with a water tap and large cupboards with broad shelves for vases. Sounds like my ideal room for all my flower arranging paraphernalia! This is the first time we saw specific cutting gardens where flowers were grown for pleasure and not just medicinal purposes. In smaller houses the mistress and daughter would arrange the flowers.

Flowers in a Glass Epergne by E. H. Stannard, 1889

Eloise Harriet Stannard, A Still Life of Flowers in a Glass Epergne on a Marble Ledge with Gloves, Wicker Basket and Scissors, oil on canvas, 1889.

George Spice

My great, grandfather George Spice was a gardener. When he married in 1878 George was a gardener living in Sittingbourne, Kent.

1878 George Spice & Maria Coom

In 1881 George had a young family and was gardener at Hempstead House in Bapchild village, near Sittingbourne, Kent. In 1891 he was still a domestic gardener at Hempstead, living in one of the cottages attached to the house.

1891 census George Spice

Bapchild Map

Hempstead House
Hemstead Cottages

During the 19th century rural cottage gardens didn’t really change. I imagine that George would have had a cottage garden at Hempstead where he grew a mixture of flowers and vegetables.

At the latter end of the Victorian Era George moved with his family to Lower Clapton, Hackney in London. It is likely that George started work at the Pond Lane Nursery on Millfields Road.

1868 Lower Clapton

Lower Clapton 1868

Charles Booth Poverty Map 1898

Pond Lane Nursery 1898

The Pond Lane Nursery was sold in 1898.

The First Florists

Until the second half of the 19th century the majority of land close to cities was in use by market gardeners. Nurserymen grew outdoor flowers for market or specialised in growing and selling exotic, greenhouse plants.

Clapton Nursery. London Evening Standard 19 May 1898

  London Evening Standard 19 May 1898

The Early Florists were working men like my Great, Grandfather George Spice.

GeorgeSpiceGardening

The newspaper article lists greenhouses in Springfields, Clapton which were growing vines, orchids, palms, acacias, gardenias and ferns. Looking at the photo George may have even worked at Springfield Park.

Gardener Springfields, Clapton Canterbury Journal, Kentish Times and Farmers' Gazette 14 Dec 1895

 Canterbury Journal, Kentish Times and Farmers’ Gazette 14 Dec 1895

Springfield Park Upper Clapton

Springfield House

At the latter end of the 19th century large areas of land which had been market gardens for fruit and vegetables became housing. It was the newly well off middle classes who bought villa type houses in these suburbs. A lot of the growers moved further out. However some nurserymen who didn’t need large amounts of land on which to grow remained. Pond Lane Nursery is an example of a business that was sold to make room for new housing. Interestingly George Spice moved to the area and is at Rushmore Road in the 1911 census. My Grandma was brought up nearby in Elmcroft Street by George’s daughter Ethel and went to school in Millfields Road. The house she grew up in was built on the Pond Lane Nursery land.

George and Maria Spice

 

28 Elmcroft Street, Clapton 1915
28 Elmcroft Street, Clapton 1915
Millfields Road Infant School, Clapton, London
Millfields Road Infant School, Clapton, London
Big Bows in the hair were fashionable
Bus Horses 1920
Playing bus-horses at Millfields Road School 1920

1911 George Spice

George found new work with the florist and garden contractor Owen Charles Greenwood of 27 Upper Clapton Road, Hackney, London. The householders of the new suburban villas would have been good customers purchasing bedding plants, pot plants and flowers. These suburban nurseries often sold from a bench in an outbuilding, but some nurseries had a shop. Owen C. Greenwood had a shop from which he sold flowers to theatres in London.  Florist Shops would sell seed, plants and a few cut flowers. There would have been more pot plants than cut flowers on display as evidenced by this advertisement. Pot plants were hired out.

Owen C. Greenwood

 

My Grandma remembered the Greenwood’s florist shop where she used to visit her Grandad George at work.  She described `a large shop with an enormous fountain in the middle’ which she thought was amazing.

Nursery Hackney

Owen C Greenwood gardeners Essex Newsman 14 April 1923

Owen C Greenwood

Owen’s son Stanley Fielder Greenwood took over the business and was still listed as a Nurseryman and Florist in 1939. George Spice always took pride in his appearance and even when retired wore a flower in his buttonhole.

It’s likely that George exhibited some of his employer’s prize blooms at various Flower Shows. Messrs Low from Clapton Nursery had exhibited at the Crystal Palace Flower Show in 1860 showing their recently introduced, exotic plants.

Crystal Palace Flower Show 1860

Crystal Palace Flower Show 1860 p2

George may even have entered the Borough of Hackney’s Chrysanthemum Society Competition himself.

Hackney Chrysanthemum Society. Shoreditch Observer - Saturday 12 April 1879

 Shoreditch Observer – Saturday 12 April 1879

George Spice

Apart from nurserymen florists the Victorian Era is famous for the Covent Garden Flower girls, epitomised by Audrey Hepburn as Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady.

My Fair Lady

Flower girls

By 1851 there were 400 basket women or flower girls on the London streets. Before they set out to sell their flowers, the flower girls sat on the steps of St Paul’s church at Covent Garden and divided the bunches of flowers from the flower market in to small posies. They also made up buttonholes.

5 June 1885 Flower Sellers Pall Mall Gazette

Pall Mall Gazette – 5th June 1885

1891 Patrick Costello attempted murder

Western Daily PressTuesday 30 June 1891

31st July 1891 Hard labour

1904 Hackney Station

Flower sellers worked outside Hackney Railway Station

I like to think that George passed a love of roses onto his daughter Ethel whilst arranging flowers for the lady of the house at Hempstead.

Ethel Spice

Ethel Spice

Flowers in a Glass Epergne by E. H. Stannard, 1889

 

 

 

 

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Chiltern Chase Wildflowers

Tufted Vetch
Dog Rose
Scarlet Pimpernel

Finish

One of my other passions, apart from my love of flowers, is cross country running. I joined Abingdon Athletics Club this year and am enjoying taking part in races. The Chiltern Chase this month has been one of my favourite events so far.

It was a beautiful sunny day and I was amazed by the number of pretty wild flowers I saw as I walked from the car to the start-line at Cow Common in Ewelme.

Ewelme
Ewelme

 

Wild Flowers, Cow Common, Ewelme

Scarlet PimpernelScarlet Pimpernel 

 Scarlet Pimpernel, Anagallis arvensis

Primrose Family.

Hairless annual plant to 10cm with straggling stems. Leaves opposite, up to 2cm long, oval to lanceolate, pointed and stalkless. Flowers in the leaf axils, solitary on slender stalks. 5 petals, usually scarlet.  Sepals 4 – 5 mm long.Corolla 5 – 7mm long, usually red, sometimes blue and rarely pink.

Flowering Season: June to October

Habitat: Cultivated land, waste ground

 

Hedgerow CranesbillHedgerow Cranesbill
Hedgerow Crane’s-bill, Geranium pyrenaicum

Crane’s-bill Family

Very hairy 5-9 lobed leaves. Flowers have 5 oval, purple-red petals 7 -10 mm with darker veins and notched. 10 stamens

Flowering season: June to August

Habitat: Meadows and roadsides, rough ground

 

Lesser StitchwortLesser StitchwortLesser Stitchwort
Lesser Stitchwort, Stellaria graminea

Campion Family

White flowers on slender stalks. Petals notched and longer than the green sepals. Narrow leaves.

Flowering Season: Apr – Jun

Habitat: Hedges, banks and wood margins

TrefoilTrefoil
Lesser Trefoil, Trifolium dubium

Pea Family

Flower heads 5-7 mm across of mostly yellow flowers, each 3-4 mm long. Stem branched, straggling or creeping.

Flowering Season: Summer

Habitat: Dry grassland, roadsides and bare ground

SpeedwellSpeedwell
Germander Speedwell, Veronica chamaedrys

Figwort Family

Creeping and ascending hairy stems up to 20cm tall. Leaves are opposite, toothed and hairy. Flowers are bright blue with a white eye. The stigma points down and the stamens to the side. The flowers are pollinated by hover-flies.

Flowering Season: May – August

Habitat: Open Woodland, grassland, meadows, scrub

Chiltern Chase 10K Route 

The Chiltern Chase comprises 5.4km,10km and15.4km  multi-terrain runs, in and around the beautiful South Oxford village of Ewelme. Being situated in the Chiltern Hills the courses take in the Chiltern Way, bridleways and off-road sections with numerous red kites flying overhead. 

Chiltern Chase 10k Route

Chiltern Chase Route

 Start of the 10K 

There were 299 runners competing in the 10K race this year and the start involves a hill. I kept a steady pace at the back of the pack.

Chiltern Chase Start

 

Chiltern Chase Start

As I set off up that first hill I knew it wasn’t going to be my fastest 10K time ever. It was hot and my legs were aching from a fair bit of running the previous week. My aim was to get round in a reasonable time for me, but to enjoy the countryside at the same time.

Someone had mentioned that a tactic to keep going when the run gets tough is to mentally count down from 100 and then repeat. The aim is to take your mind off being out of breath and to stop thinking about how much your legs ache. I tried this tactic and it kept me going. However I found it took away some of the enjoyment out of focusing on the view. I therefore devised my own tactic. I am passionate about flowers and I love spotting wildflowers. I made the run into a memory game. I actively looked about trying to spot a new wildflower. I then added the name of the flower to a list in my mind and kept repeating until I saw a new one. Then this new wildflower was added to my list and so it went on. So instead of repeating 100, 99, 98, 97 etc in time to my stride I was repeating Scarlet Pimpernel, Cranesbill, Stitchwort, Trefoil, Speedwell etc etc. It was quite fun, making me look closely at the hedgerows and field margins and kept me going up and down the hills.

Cow Parsley

Cow Parsley,  Anthriscus sylvestris 

Carrot Family

Almost hairless branched plant to 1.5m tall. Leaves 2 to 3 pinnate, dark green, with divided lobes. Flowers arranged  in a double umbel.Petals to 2mm.

Flowering Season: May to August

Habitat: Roadsides, meadows, woodland margins

Common PoppyCommon PoppyCommon Poppy
Common Poppy, Papaver rhoeas

Poppy Family

Hairy plant grows up to 70cm tall. Feathery leaves and toothed leaflets. Droops in bud, becomes upright in flower. Sepals fall away during flowering.. Four red petals, about 4cm long, often with black spots towards the base. Numerous stamens. The fruit are hairless round capsules with 8-18 ridges with many openings beneath.

Flowering Season: May to July

Habitat: Arable fields, waste ground, edges of footpaths

Ox Eye DaisyOx Eye DaisyOx Eye Daisy
Oxeye Daisy, Leucanthemum vulgare

Daisy Family

Erect slightly hairy plant, 20 – 70 cm tall. Lower leaves are spoon shaped, notched  or pinnately lobed. Stem leaves are long, entire or pinnate.  Daisy like flowers, 2.5-6 cm across. Ray-florets white, disc-florets yellow.

Flowering Season: May – Sept

Habitat: Grassland, roadsides, Meadows

ButtercupButtercup
Buttercup Ranunculus

Stems tall and erect. Lobed leaves. Golden yellow flowers.

Flowering Season: May to June

Habitat: Meadows, scrub, farmland, footpaths, wasteland

Elder
Elder, Sambucus nigra

Honeysuckle Family

Shrub or small tree. Creamy white flowers are umbel like, flat topped

Flowering Season: Summer

Habitat: Woodland, scrub

Dog RoseDog RoseDog rose
Dog-rose, Rosa canina

Strong arching stems to 3m. Leaves with 2-3 pairs of toothed leaflets. Flowers are 4-5 cm, pink or white.

Flowering Season:June to September

Habitat: Hedges, scrub and woodland margins

 

 

These photos were taken by Barry Cornelius and at this stage I look quite cheerful on my quest to find Wildflowers on my run. I even got my feet off the ground at one point!

Barry Cornelius PhotosBarry Cornelius Photos

Barry Cornelius Photos

Herb RobertHerb Robert
Herb Robert, Geranium robertianum

Geranium Family

Spreading plant to 10 – 50 cm tall, with hairy stems and leaves. Stalked leaves opposite with 3-5 lobes. Lobes deeply separated. Petals pink 8 – 14 mm, unnotched. Anthers orange or purple.

Flowering Season: May – Dec

Habitat: Woods, scrub, clearings, walls, shingle and rocks near sea

White Campion
White Campion, Silene latifolia

Campion Family

Leaves are oval or lanceolate. Flowers white, 25 – 30mm. The 5 white petals are lobed. Where this species grows close to Red-Campion hybridised pink flowers are found.

Flowering Season: May to October

Habitat: Waste ground, , rough field margins, hedgerows

Common Bird's Foot Trefoil
Common Bird’s Foot Trefoil, Lotus corniculatus

Sprawling or creeping perennial. Leaflets ovate to lanceolote. Flowers yellow about 15 mm long. Pods long, dark brown, spreading out like a bird’s foot.

Flowering Season: May to October

Habitat: Dry Grassland, pastures, edges of footpaths and heathland

Bugloss
Bugloss, Anchusa arvensis

Borage Family

Erect, very bristly plant. Bright blue, flowers.

Flowering Season: June to September

Habitat: Sandy and light soils, grassland,dunes and wasteground.

Wood AvensWood Avens
Wood Avens, Geum rivale

Rose Family

Also known as Herb Bennet. A rather straggly plant to 60 cm tall. Hairy stems and pinnate leaves. Open, erect flowers turn into slightly prickly fruitheads.

Flowering Season: Jun – Aug

Habitat: Scrub, hedges

Lesser Periwinkle-1Periwinkle
Periwinkle, Vinca

Creeping woody shrub with evergreen untoothed leaves. Blue/violet flowers.

Flowering Season: Apr- Jun

Habitat: Deciduous woods, scrub, calcareous soils

My Wildflower spotting kept me going. Icknield Bank Plantation was pretty, but also pretty hilly through the woodland. Just round the corner of an incline I spotted Barry Cornelius with his camera at the moment when I was about to be overtaken by a speedy 15K runner. I gave it my best shot and sped up for the camera as I knew I’d look like I was competing in the 15K!  That’s a lesson learnt in the past. Keep your eyes out for a man with a camera and perfect your smile and posture for the photographic evidence.

Barry Cornelius PhotosBarry Cornelius PhotosBarry Cornelius Photos

Photo credit Barry Cornelius

I was now over half way and the sun was shining brightly. The water stops were a welcome relief and it was nice to be cheered on by the friendly volunteers. The second half included fields of rape and pretty cottages.

RapeRape

Rape, Brassica napus

Cabbage Family

Tall annual to 2m. Pale yellow flowers.

Flowering Season: May – July

Habitat: Field margins

White Dead Nettle

White Dead-nettle, Lamium album

Leaves ovate, heart shaped at the base. Common nettle shape, but not stinging. Flowers white, 20-25 mm.

Flowering Season: Apr – Dec

Habitat: Grassy, disturbed and semi-shaded habitats

Tufted VetchTufted Vetch

Tufted Vetch, Vicia cracca

Downy perennial. Leaves pinnate, with 6 -12 pairs of narrow-oblong leaflets. Bluish/violet Flowers in long raceme to 10 cm.

Flowering Season: Jun – Aug

Habitat:Grassy and bushy places

I must admit it was hard work crossing the open fields in the sun nearer the finish. Particularly as the faster 15k runners were passing me thick and fast. However they were very encouraging calling out `Well done Abingdon!’ I stuck to my course and let the faster runners go round me to overtake. I’ve learnt that it doesn’t work trying to get out of the way. I fall over and the other runner gets confused and delayed.

As I came back into Ewelme village the marshalls and villagers cheered me on. Then I rounded the corner to the finish and was met with a roar of applause as my name was called out towards the finish line. I gave it my best sprint finish and was ecstatic to make it over the line.

FinishFinish

Photo credit Andrew Casey

Just behind me was the chairman of Didcot Runners hand in hand with two of the Abingdon Athletics Club Ladies. Lovely to see the sense of positivity and camaraderie as they crossed the line together.

Chiltern Chase Finish

I found the running difficult on a hot June day. However my wildflower spotting got me through and I must admit it was a lovely jaunt out into the countryside. I will be back next year!

Chiltern Chase Certificate

Chiltern Chase Finish

I’d also highly recommend the tea and cakes provided by the Local school and the Hog- roast. The Chiltern Chase really does have a sense of community and a village fete atmosphere. Lovely!

 

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