Monthly Archives: February 2016

Yet more stories that flowers flowering in February have to tell


69 common gorse cropped

Gorse flowers were used to make tea and a fruit wine.  Gorse was used for brushes, fuel and animal feed.  Its high heat made it especially valuable for bread ovens.  Cut Gorse was used for stock fencing – its prickles deterred animals from pushing through it! Continue reading

El Ninjo, Trackatree, and the agonies of a pincer movement

So, thanks to El Ninjo, this winter (so called) is proving to be an odd one indeed.  Our daffodils have been in flower for two weeks (normal time is first / second week in March), Twitter is awash with images of Snowdrops, and on Sunday Richard Jefferson and I saw our first Primroses (actually, Richard spotted them – I’d marched straight past; probably talking).  All of which means I’m feeling TrackaTree pressure even earlier than normal. Continue reading

More stories that flowers flowering in February have to tell


34 common dog violet

Sweet violet is used to make food flavourings and candied violets.  The flowers can be incorporated into salads, and fermented to produce a sweet wine.  Violets were used as part of treatments for insommnia, headache and depression.  They were used to make soothing oils and syrups. Garlands of its blossoms worn around the heads of revellers were supposed to dispel wine fumes and prevent dizziness and headaches. Continue reading

Stories that flowers flowering in February have to tell

Lesser celandine

04 Lesser celandine cropped

The leaves of Lesser Celandine are high in Vitamin C, so were used to prevent scurvy.  Young leaves were either boiled or used as a salad – despite the fact that they contain toxins, which become stronger as the leaves age.  Lesser Celandine was used to treat haemorrhoids, in fact it used to be called ‘Pilewort’.  This was because the plant’s knobbly underground tubers looked like piles.  Continue reading

BBC Countryfile comes to Hillhouse Wood, and I meet Tom

A few days ago a film crew from BBC Countryfile spent several hours in Hillhouse Wood, near Colchester.  They were filming a clip relating to Ash die back, and the Woodland Trust (who owns the wood) had suggested that our wood would be a suitable one to use.  This was on the basis that a) it has mature Ash trees, b) it is easily accessible, and c) (I suspect) that the Friends of Hillhouse Wood, a local support group, would likely provide someone to look after the filmers and make sure they didn’t get lost / trash the wood / hold an all-night rave. Continue reading

The Naturetale Restoration Foundation is getting into its stride (to extend the metaphor)

Since my previous post, announcing that the NRF is ‘out of the blocks’ a number of things have been ‘ticked off’.  Two independent experts in meadow management have been kind enough to provide us with statements supporting the ‘merit’ of what we are aiming to achieve.  We have also approached a third person, a senior manager in one of the wildlife trusts, to ask for a third one.  We have also identified a number of documents from Natural England, plus some academic papers, which set out the importance of maintaining and improving lowland neutral species rich meadows, which is the habitat that the work of the NRF is relevant to.  Together, we hope that this material constitutes a sufficient proof of merit to meet the requirements of the Charity Commission. Continue reading