At long last

After a summer of fixing and painting and holidaying I can now sit down and devote the time to pick up where I left off with blog posting. I’ve collected lots of photographs and I’m about 20 posts behind, so here goes…

Since I acquired my new camera earlier on in the summer I’ve been crawling around in the undergrowth taking pictures of wild flowers and here are a few of them.

Wimpole Hall Farm is a stately home to the west of Cambridge which is owned by the National Trust and is set in extensive park and farmland. A stroll round the park there earlier in the summer was as rewarding as ever with a buzzard and a couple of great spotted woodpeckers putting in appearances, but I didn’t have my zoom lens with me so I was restricted to photographing things which were close by and didn’t move too quickly.

Growing in the shade of a line of trees were bugle flowers…

Bugle – Ajuga reptans

Bugle is related to self heal (Prunella vulgaris), they are both members of the family Lamiaceae and both have medicinal properties.

According to Nicholas Culpeper, the 17th century English botanist and renowned herbalist:

Self-Heal whereby when you are hurt, you may heal yourself, it is an especial herb for inward or outward wounds. Take it inwardly in syrups for inward wounds, outwardly in unguents and plasters for outward. As Self-Heal is like Bugle in form, so also in the qualities and virtues, serving for all purposes, whereunto Bugle is applied with good success either inwardly or outwardly, for inward wounds or ulcers in the body, for bruises or falls and hurts. If it be combined with Bugle, Sanicle and other like wound herbs, it will be more effectual to wash and inject into ulcers in the parts outwardly…. It is an especial remedy for all green wounds to close the lips of them and to keep the place from further inconveniences. The juice used with oil of roses to annoint the temples and forehead is very effectual to remove the headache, and the same mixed with honey of roses cleaneth and healeth ulcers in the mouth and throat.’

I’m not sure what Culpeper means by ‘green wounds‘ but it makes me glad I live in the penicillin age. Indeed he died of tuberculosis at the tender age of 37. No herbs could cure that.

Purple self-heal

This picture is an attempt to give a feel for what an English meadow looks like in summer, two of my favourite flowers – self-heal and white clover (Trifolium repens) set in the long grass against a blue ‘Simpsons sky‘.

Another name for bugle is ‘carpenters herb’ due to its ability to stem bleeding, although it appears it does this not by catalysing the clotting process but by lowering blood pressure and heart rate in a similar way to digitalis, the active pharmaceutical compound which gives foxgloves their toxicity:

Foxgloves, Digitalis purpurea, growing next to the path to the cafe at Wimpole

On another foray into the countryside in June, this time to RSPB Fen Drayton, I was specifically looking for oxeye daisy and in amongst the daisies were these lovely dames violets (Hesperis matronalis). Dames violet originates in the Mediterranean but has colonised the UK after escaping from gardens. It has been used as an ‘antiscorbutic’, i.e. to treat scurvy.

Oxeye daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare) and dames violet growing slongside the Cambridge Guided Busway at RSPB Fen Drayton
Dames violet flowers

Also growing alongside the busway were lesser knapweed (Centaurea nigra), which I think is rather lovely and not ‘lesser‘ or a ‘weed‘! I’d be happy for it to grow in my garden…

Lesser knapweed – I couldn’t find any reference to medicinal or herbal uses of lesser knapweed

…and ragged robin (Lychnis flos-cuculi):

I couldn’t find any reference to medicinal uses of ragged robin either but it’s also rather beautiful and small clusters of it punctuated tracts of grass mixed with other flowers.

There’ll be more flowers to come, and butterflies… birds… mammals etc. etc.

25 responses to “At long last

  1. So very lovely flower pictures, and meadows. A very interesting post, Finn.

  2. Beautiful photos, Finn…I’m enjoying your new camera. 🙂

  3. Your Dames Violet we call Dames Rocket for some reason????

  4. foxgloves – the same around the world I think.

  5. Welcome back Finn!! And I can’t wait to see some other pics with your new camera (which one is it by the way?? just bought a new one myself, so a bit curious) Would love to see the butterflies 🙂

  6. I’m happy you’re back too and glad I’m not the only one that’s got a lot of catching up to do.You are clearly loving the new camera! Lovely pictures – almost 3D, especially the ragged robin. I like the meadow shot too.

    • I’m glad you like the meadow. I’ve a couple more meadow type shots which I’ll post in the near future.

      My new camera is really impressive, the image quality, even at ISO 1000 and beyond is remarkable so I’m very pleased with it. It means I can crawl around in the mirk and still use appropriate shutter speeds.

  7. Welcome back, Finn! I would also welcome lesser knapweed in my garden. The idea of injecting self-heal into ulcers (or any kind of wound) is fascinating. I wonder if any modern studies have investigated that…

    • Hello Ruth, I think folks in days of yore had a very different attitude to ‘medical intervention’ than us mollycoddled modern folk 😉

      Speaking from a professional perspective, I doubt self heal has been systematically investigated. Pharmaceutical companies are generally reticent to get involved in plants because there is usually more than one active ingredient which may act synergistically, so it’s not possible to isolate and patent protect a single entity. And alas pharmaceuticals is all about IP.

  8. Welcome back Finn! I can’t wait to see what other treasures you’ve discovered while crawling around the undergrowth with your new camera 😀 Thank you for the wonderful pleasure of learning from you! Sharon

  9. Welcome back Finn, my will to learn has been all the poorer during your absence. I know of a certain someone else who has also just come out of summer (what summer?) hibernation.

  10. Great to ‘see’ you again!

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