Monday, 2 August 2021

August Country Days

 The first of the month post on the 2nd of the month.

This is the August page from The Illustrated Country Year by Celia Lewis

 

and the adjoining page with a folklore rhyme I've not come across anywhere else

Yesterday was Lammas..........the 1st of August was one of the Celts 'cross quarter' days. The dates that fall between the solstices and equinoxes that were used to mark the agricultural year. It was called Lughnasad Day after the Celtic God Lugh. According to ninth century Anglo-Saxon records Lammas or "hlaf-mass" meaning Loaf-Mass or Feast of Bread  was celebrated as the start of harvest.  The first loaf made from the years harvest was taken to church to be blessed and sacrificed so that all could be fed from the rest of the harvest.

 Looking back at what I'd written for previous  1st August posts and came across this, which I'd forgotten - but the bit about making the most of our time while we are here is a good thing to remember...............Apparently I found this in one of the old Folklore diaries.

The act of sacrifice at harvest is a reminder that we all follow the same path of life and death and reminds us to make the most of our time whilst we are here. Consider the passing of the summer and enjoy the bounties it has brought us and think how best to prepare for the coming autumn and winter.

Before the latest spell of rain the combines were out everywhere cutting the first of the barley, it will be a few more weeks before the wheat is ready, even if........ 

After Lammas Day corn ripens by night as by day.

I saw details of this little book and found it for a few pounds on abebooks.

 

The lady who painted all the wildflowers did it for a friend who wanted to learn the names of the flowers she saw. She started in 1943 and carried on painting even after her friend died, until 1999, traveling widely and painting wherever she went. She then donated 150 pages of paintings to the Kendal Natural History Society who published the collection as this small book in 2016 - such lovely paintings.
She was a Modern Languages Graduate before WWII when women studied for degrees but were not awarded them but was finally awarded her degree 40 years later. She taught Modern Languages in Kendal and died in 2009 aged 94.

Looking through the book there are so many flowers that I've never heard of. On the August pages above I puzzled over the Ploughman's Spikenard - such an unusual name. Looking it up in my Pocket Nature Wild Flower book, it should be around everywhere except the North of England and Scotland but prefers chalky soil. So maybe  not in growing much in the Suffolk clay soils.
Then I looked up the word "Spikenard" and it's also called Nard, an amber coloured essential oil from a flowering plant of the honeysuckle family from the Himalayas.
It's even mentioned in the Bible
 
And being in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at meat, there came a woman  having  an alabaster box of ointment of spikenard, very precious; and she broke the box and poured it on his head. Mark 14:3

 Still doesn't explain why the plant growing in this country is called The Ploughmans Spikenard, as it's nothing like Honeysuckle and probably isn't at all precious.

I do enjoy tracking down information.

Back Tomorrow with a catch up on the Olympics and the weekend.
Sue

 


26 comments:

  1. I like that folklore rhyme - I've never heard it either.
    xx

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  2. We get quite a lot of Spikenard (although I didn't know that's what it is called) growing around Gloucestershire - particularly in poor soil areas closer to the old quarries - which fits perfectly with what you found out.

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  3. I really enjoyed reading about the Spikenard and I am going to look it up this morning, I try and look up for things it helps with the brain.
    It's a lovely day at the moment it makes such a different to see the sunshine and the garden.
    Hazel ๐ŸŒˆ๐ŸŒˆ

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  4. I've not knowingly seen it. One of the Fleabane family (and good for pests of that ilk). Also used for wounds, and in decoction for bruises, inward wounds, pains in the side and breathing problems. Perhaps it was used for wounds by Ploughmen?! I think I will find it on more limestone soils than we have locally.

    What a lovely book and story behind it. Margaret Erskine Wilson certainly lived a very full life.

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  5. I looked up Ploughman's Spikenard in my book Wild Flowers of Britain and Ireland and after the description it says "Spikenard was an expensive medieval perfume; ploughmen were reduced to hanging this up in their hovels to sweeten the air". It seems to grow from your area down to mine. I too like researching, that's why I did my family history. Great fun.

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  6. An very interesting post and a beautiful book of wildflowers. Margaret Erskine Wilson was certainly multi-talented.

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  7. That book is so pretty! Wish I had a talent for drawing like that. Lovely! I wonder what Margaret Erskine Wilson would think of us snapping a flower photo with our phones!

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  8. She has certainly captured the spirit of the flowers she painted, what a lovely thing to do for a friend but it set her off on a new path in life.

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  9. I think if there is one skill I would like to have had it would be that of painting wild flowers so exquisitely.

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  10. Wildflowers have a beauty of their own and your book illustrates them very well. Many years ago I planted a packet of wildflower seeds and for a few years the flowers reappeared. Today, it is only the foxglove that appear every summer. Tall stalks with soft pastel flowers growing in partial shade in a woodland area.

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  11. Thanks for showing us the beautiful wildflower book. I've treated myself to a copy.

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  12. What a lovely rhyme. I do wish it was true however as we could use some rain.

    God bless.

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  13. Nice wild flower book. I have one almost like that but it's empty to put garden pictures in or write about what is planted. Its from England that I found years ago at a thrift store. There's spikenard that Young Living grows in India. Steam distilled from roots. Scripture verse John 12:3. Same verse like you shared.

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