Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Ne'er Cast a Clout

'Never cast a clout till May is out' is I guess a saying that most people have come across at one time or another, but you would be mistaken to think that it means the month of May as do other old sayings such as:-

Button to the chin, till May be in.
Cast not a clout till May be out.

or,

The wind at North and East
Was never good for man or beast
So never think to cast a clout
Until the month of May be out.

Rather it refers to the Hawthorn, also known as the May tree or May blossom, which is a very common tree of English hedgerows especially since the enclosures when it was used for its fast growth. They all however warn against leaving off your outer garments (clouts) until this rather changeable month has past.

For me it is not only the May blossom that heralds the change from winter to summer but the bluebell Hyacinthoides non-scripta that carpet our deciduous woodland floors as the fresh green of emerging leaves appear (you won't find that colour on a Dulux chart). The bluebell can be found throughout northern Europe but the largest concentration is in England where almost 50% of the worlds bluebells can be seen. So popular is this sight that it is a tourist attraction not only now but also in the past when special trains took sightseers to the Chiltern hills to see the spectacular displays. Also flowering at this time is the Wild Garlic and where they mingle such as on the banks of the river Mole beneath Box Hill it is particularly attractive. Although common it is still none the less under threat from the loss of ancient woodland, taking from the wild, and to a lesser extent hybridisation with the Spanish Bluebell.


I think they are spectacular, but judge for yourselves:-
The English Bluebell


                                     






Bluebell and Wild Garlic



Spanish Bluebell




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