Country Diary: Baneberry site visit was encouraging

Baneberry in flower.
Baneberry in flower.

‘After the sun, the rain, After the rain, the sun.’ Yes, this is the way of life since the world began, and thankfully no-one can change that! The countryside has resumed its freshness and multi-coloured shades of green. Wonderful!

Unfortunately I almost had to visit the A&E. Thankfully we had left Tigga, our Parson Russell Terrier at home when we took Martin to view woodland where the rare baneberry grew on limestone soil. We were just leaving the site, when a thick twig sprang up and deeply lacerated my ankle.

With blood gushing from the wound into my trainer, I hastily applied Michael’s tissue and sustained pressure to restrain the flow. Martin’s polythene bag served as a make-shift bandage to maintain pressure, as we returned to our car quite nearby. Keeping the ankle elevated worked wonders. Lesson number one - always carry a small first aid kit!

The baneberry site was encouraging, with a dozen or so plants just beginning to bud. It may be June before their cream-coloured flowers are carried in a loose, unbranched spike. The four to six petals are very short, and the longer white stamens, which are quite numerous, give the spike a feathery appearance. I remember discovering my first specimen over 50 years ago, on a stretch of limestone pavement near Ingleborough. In the deep cracks or grikes of limestone grew several plants among saplings of ash.

Beneath elms and ash, along woodland rides and clearings which remain very damp, you should find the blue bugle. Their blue turrets make a magnificent show from mid-May. Whorls of small blue flowers are produced in the axils of leaves.

Bugle (Ajuga reptans) may have the origin of its name from bugulus - a thin glass pipe which was used in embroidery. It was shaped rather like the bugle flower. Also known as Carpenter’s Herb, it reflects its original use in arresting bleeding from all kinds of wounds.

Now I’ve loved alpine gardening in several forms for over half a century. A change was needed. Having planted cuttings between patio pavers since moving here, the tapestry of colour was amazing from mid-May and through June. The last autumn we cleared the lot, swept the patio and admired the clean sweep.

This week, our friend Pat had a similar problem, with masses of cyclamen corms colonising her lovely gravel bed. Offering assistance, I enjoyed reducing the plants considerably, and hopefully she can walk un-hindered by huge clumps entangled in the ‘matting’ beneath the gravel. I hate to waste a single plant, but sometimes you just have to be ruthless, unless you manage to find someone wishing to adopt them.

My husband Michael has reluctantly decided to give up bee keeping after many rewarding years. Would anyone be interested in acquiring two working hives, to enjoy a most fascinating hobby?