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Country Diary: Treasuring our beautiful county

Wood sorrel
Wood sorrel

‘Such lovely things, are yours and mine forever,

The peaceful stream, the murmur of the sea...’

How fortunate we are to live in such a beautiful county as North Yorkshire. We should never take it for granted, but treasure each and every moment.

An early morning walk with Tigga, with blue skies and warm sunshine, is rivalled only by evening strolls when the world is still. Just before sunset, blackbirds contribute to even-song, their melodious calls delivered from the height of a chimney or television aerial. A pot pourri of perfumes linger in the air.

All too soon the pink and white cherry blossom has fluttered to the ground like confetti, smothering footpaths in a blanket of petals.

Now it’s the horsechestnut ‘candles’ that brighten the day with creamy-white blossom, closely followed by hawthorn buds bursting into life 
once more. Yes, May brings a surge of new life to the countryside, and a burst of energy to us all.

Birds are desperately seeking worms, caterpillars and insects on which to feed their demanding chicks. Nature has provided all their needs at the appropriate time. A cat sits motionless on a branch, waiting... waiting. Alarm calls from distressed nesting birds warn of impending danger, but the cat just waits for its chance of victory.

Now is the time for visiting open gardens and lavender farms. Aromatic plants have long been used as strewing herbs for strewing on floors of houses, halls and banqueting places in summer time. When crushed underfoot, their perfume made the heart merry.

Nowadays, with fitted carpets, strewing plants seems an obstacle to hygiene, but try lavender and meadowsweet along with other herbs and rushes, around your next barbecue, or in the shed and greenhouse, and a dog kennel if you have one.

Lavender leaves have been added to ‘tobacco’ and included in other smoking mixtures. Lavender sachets placed on pillows become more strongly fragrant the longer they’re lain upon. They really do seem to help you enjoy a good night’s sleep! You’ll be amazed at the variety of products available nowadays using lavender, so do go and discover a perfect, scented gift at a lavender farm.

You don’t have to travel far to discover in local woodland, a flower admired since April. Among the leaf litter and moss-coated tree stumps are tiny ‘fairy bells’. The delicate stems bear solitary, five-petalled white flowers.

Peep inside the ‘bells’ and the delicate pencilling of mauve veins is most attractive.

Their true name is wood sorrel, and this plant has three heart-shaped leaves similar to clover. St Patrick is said to have used this sorrel to illustrate the doctrine of the trinity.

The lime-green leaves contain calcium oxalate which resembles vinegar. It was used in salads and as a sharpening ingredient for sauces during the 14th century. I love it in cheese sandwiches - in small quantities.