I have been away on a cycling holiday in the beautiful Cotentin region of the Cherbourg peninsula. This is a part of Normandy which people rush past on their way to the south. But for cyclists like us, anxious to get away from tourists it is perfect. It is a land of lonely marshes and meadows punctuated by dykes and lazy rivers.
The wildlife is wonderful. We saw otters and storks. The otters were too fast for me but here is a stork.
Instead of acres of wheat and barley like we have here, there were little fields and hedges and meadows with beautiful Normandy cows and French Trotter horses or the distinctive donkeys of the Cotentin.
But apart from the solitude and the wonderfully flat, deserted roads, it was the abundance of wild flowers which particularly delighted me. So I was inspired to use wild flowers for a vase this week. It’s not really a walk on the wild side, just the bottom of my garden where the last vestiges of my wild flower garden are hanging on by the skin of their teeth. I used to have clouds of yellow daffodils followed by a froth of cow parsley and ox -eye daisies in the orchard. But then I got fed up with the total mess it looked in late summer and did away with it all to make way for my secret garden. I have planted a little copse of birches at the bottom of the garden and here I have wild flowers grown from seed along with the Ox Eye daisies and Knapweed which put themselves there.
I should have taken the photograph before I picked the flowers.
Just like in Normandy, the verges round where I live are full of Field Scabious, Knautia arvensis and Hedge Bedstraw, Galium mollugo. In the ditches and damp places you can find Meadowsweat, Filipendula ulmaria
The cornflowers are from my cutting bed and the Meadow sweet, Filipendula ulmaria is from the damp edges round my large pond which is little more than a puddle this year.
Meadowsweet used to be used as a strewing herb as Gerard says ‘The smell thereof makes the heart merrie, delighteth the senses’ – so it seems a good idea to have it in a vase as strewing herbs seem to have gone out of fashion now we no longer gnaw on bones and throw them over our shoulders. I have long admired Field Scabious and so I decided to collect some seed and grow my own. It is pretty enough to go in the borders. The little white starry flowers are Hedge Bedstraw, Galium mollugo.
In another out of the way part of the garden I have set some Ladys’ Bedstraw, Galium verum. I forgot to put it in the vase in the first photo. So here is the vase now. Lady’s Bedstraw was also used as a strewing herb and I can see why as it is beautifully fragrant, it smells of honey. It is very invasive so if you grow it put it in an out of the way place where it can romp away.
My Lady’s Bedstraw is in a sunny spot and it is abuzz with bees and butterflies and so is the Field Scabious and Greater Knapweed, Centaurea scabiosa. I have never actually planted the knapweed, in fact I spend my life trying to get rid of it. But the insects love it.
I have also used oats which were growing up the lane, a bit of White Campion and a few sprigs of orange Hieracium aurantiacum which is sometimes called ‘Foxes and Cubs’.
Actually, I think it looks better without the yellow Lady’s Bedstraw but I am keeping it in because the honey scent fills the room. The jug is a Portmeirion one which I bought when we visited a few years ago. I love to have a few native plants about the garden as long as they are not too invasive and the bees and butterflies really appreciate them.
In a Vase on Monday is hosted by the endlessly inventive Cathy at ramblinginthegarden.
I am going over right now to see what she has been up to and to catch up with other blogging friends.