Half a Hundred Herbs Week 16 – Cowslips
This has certainly been the week of the cowslip. All along the motorway verges going down and back were clumps of cowslips thriving and brightening the journey. For a flower which was giving serious cause for concern a few years ago, they seem to be doing well.
I love the wholehearted gold of the flowers and so I grow them in the garden – they come just as the daffodils are over, and keep it hopeful until the aquilegias take over. They have always figured in children’s games and well-dressings and rituals for predicting marriages, but I can’t find many medical uses. They are edible and can be candied, and were often used for making cowslip wine, (opinion varies as to how good this was) but the flowers are too scarce even yet for me to recommend it. For now, cowslips are strictly for fun.
The garden is becoming lush and green and birds are feeding nestlings – except for the gulls who look as if they are sitting tight. We have swallows and housemartins, and very noisy chiffchaffs, but no swifts yet. The tadpoles all hatched and huddled in nests of algae for a good while but I can’t see any sign of them. They may be hiding, as I’ve seen adult frogs, and fished three newts up with a lot of surplus duckweed, but on the other hand they may be newt food.
The plants in the stock bed have settled in well, and there are flower buds on the french lavender already. All the seeds – apart from the usual suspects, angelica, myrtle and martagon lily – have germinated, and I’m hardening off the tarragon offsets and the heart-ease seedlings to go out in the garden in a week or two.