Wednesday, 1 May 2019

May Country Days

From The Nature Notes of an Edwardian Lady

Another book I have on my shelves is "A Country Calendar and Other Writings" by Flora Thompson - much more famous for her book "Lark Rise to Candleford".
About May she says "May comes sweet and complete in every detail. Along every lane and hedgerow bank spring a thousand small and seldom considered things - Natures embroidery, to finish off her festal robe to perfection. Within a few feet, massed closely together, may be seen the blue eyes of speedwell, silvery stitchwort stars, cowslip, coltsfoot and violet, with dog's mercury powdering them all with the gold-dust of it's pollen, and dead-nettle with honeyed coronets of rich cream"

Were violets later in the early part of the C20? and cowslips will be going over as we get into the first week of May as will the dog's mercury. Have the seasons changed? Or is Flora Thompson's writing artistic licence?

 So many weather sayings for May, everyone desperate to know what the weather would be like during the main growing season.

Best known, although no one has ever decided for definite if it means May the month or may the flower of the hawthorn. So keep your woolly vest on for a while longer!

Ne'er cast a clout 'til May is out.

Most old sayings prefer a wet and cold month (hope it isn't!)
May damp and cool fills the barns and wine vats

Water in May is bread all the year

A cold May is kindly,
And fills the barn nicely.

A wet May
Makes a big load of hay.

In the middle of May comes the tail of the winter

And a warning for shepherds

Shear your sheep in May,
And shear them all away.

I could go on as there are 3½ pages  of these in just one of my books!

May is possibly named after a Greek goddess Maia or from the word maiores (meaning Elders) as this was the month when the Romans celebrated the older members of their families.

The Wheel of the Year segment for this season from Ceremonies of the Seasons by Jennifer Cole as Spring turns to Summer

For ancient Celtic people May 1st was Beltane( Bel's Fire). The first day of summer and bonfires were lit to help the sun regain it's strength. A day of feasting and in many places there are still traditional events on this day, involving dancing round maypoles, May Queens, Garland dancers and Morris men and hobby horses.

Back Tomorrow


  1. You always have such interesting information, and I believe that now, more than ever, we need to be aware and pass this information along so that it is not forgotten. My Great Grandmother always said "Cast not a clout til May be out" too.
    Did you know today is also known as Walpurgis Day, after an eight century abbess?

  2. May is my absolutely favorite month and the cow parsley is the top of my list, so delicate.

    1. Yes, cow parsley is one of my favourite things each May too.

  3. You're on the ball ... I didn't even realise today was the first of May. Lots of clouts casted here ... no wonder I'm sniffing.

    I have never heard the sheep one, so we better leave Ethel fully dressed for a while ... although the weight of her rather generous fleece does seem to be getting her down.

  4. May is the month I look forward to summer. The banking at the roadside was full of cowslips on the way down from the border so maybe they are earlier where you are and now over. I don't have any sheep to sheer but at home in Yorkshire I still protect my plants from sudden overnight frosts until the end of May.

  5. I think the seasons are slipping a little, more backwards and forewards than a total forward change. Cowslips finished here as well, bluebells well advanced. I think the warm Easter did for some of them.

  6. I do miss the variety of UK wildflowers.

    The forecast here for May seems to be a bit wetter--though not colder--than I would like. Last year we set a record for rain. Would not care to repeat it.

  7. Our hedgerows are currently filled with an abundance of pungent wild garlic. It blows your socks off, but I love it.

  8. I bought this diary for my mother many moons ago
    she never read it

  9. Where I live in upstate NY in the US, May can also be variable, but is generally less wet than April. This year, May is starting very cool and wet and it looks like it will stay like this for at least another week. We don't plant any vegetables or annual flowers outside until the end of May. I love the Wheel of the Year artwork.

  10. I love the illustrations in your books and the information is wonderful. May is starting out very cold here on the Canadian prairies.

    God bless.

  11. Spring flowering is moving earlier, definitely - there's quite a lot of scientific research evidence for it now in lots of places, including the southern UK, even with the year to year variations. Species are moving at different rates, but the general pattern is flowering earlier, by weeks in some cases. And bird egg laying and hatching is also moving. Just another side effect of climate change... (I work in a University in a department which studies environmental change of all kinds, so I get to read about and teach these topics for work)


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