These days the word 'lush' brings to my mind that overpoweringly smelly soap shop on many UK high streets. One's nostrils are assailed from some way off, with the sickly smell of synthetic strawberry, melon, vanilla, and goodness only knows what else. It seems a shame, because at this time of the year the very best word one can use to describe the countryside is lush, but somehow I can't get away from the shop! Anyway, Mr Gaucho and I took a walk a little earlier this evening, and it was luscious, glorious, vibrant with fresh bright greens and luxuriant with new growth
We weren't the only ones enjoying the sunshine. We saw over a dozen hares, busy in the fields, doing early evening stuff. Love the ears!
Tonight we are celebrating the arrival of a new grandson, who was born a few hours ago in Melbourne! What wonderful news for his parents, and of course not forgetting his big sister, the little Melbourne princess. Oh happy day!
Crosswort, Galium cruciata, is flowering at the moment. A single strand of this modest wild flower is not particularly spectacular, but groups of stems lend a gentle lime green to the hedgerow and verge in May and June.
It's tiny yellow-green flowers, shaped in cruciform (Cruciata) sit on angular, hairy stems, above and close to the leaves, which are arranged in whorls of four, hence the name crosswort.
In bygone days crosswort had a medicinal use. It was a useful herb for healing wounds, relieving the discomfort of rheumatism and various stomach disorders.
The dainty flower is one of the bedstraws, part of the Rubiaceae family. It is related to that pesky plant, goosegrass or cleavers, which little boys love to throw at your back as you pass by, leaving you unaware of a straggly passenger, hooked into your clothing until you get home!
Tilly and I took a fairly short walk this morning. The haar of the last two days had finally lifted and the sun was doing its best to burn off the cloud cover. Every field had a hare or two in it. Across a distant field I could see a hare busily running around, possibly a doe visiting her leverets which she will have positioned at a distance from each other, to reduce the risk of a predator wiping her young out in one swoop.
I stood watching two hares loping around a small paddock. One came out on to the driveway, and unaware of Tilly and me, it started to come towards us. Tilly kept stock-still. The hare suddenly realised we were only several yards apart and stopped, had a little think, turned round and retraced its steps before stopping by the road for a minute or two.
We carried on, passing a patch of coltsfoot which are now showing their seedheads. On the way home I saw more hares and a group of deer, quietly grazing on the edge of the wood. I tried to think of the best word I can use to describe what I feel when I see a hare. They are a particular passion of mine and having sifted through a number of words in my head, considering the emotion each conveyed to me, I decided in the end that the word 'joy' covers it perfectly! Pure and simple joy.
We were in Somerset last weekend, where the lanes are looking spectacular, billowing with cow parsley and may blossom. As we journeyed down the motorway, from north to south, I could see how the hawthorn bushes progressed from reluctant blossom to full blown flowers by the time we reached the Midlands. Back home now, and finally the hawthorn is beginning to flower. It's still May, just, and we probably have two or three weeks to enjoy the hedgerows looking their very best.
Mr Gaucho has said more than once in the last two or three weeks that the cherry blossom seems to have been better than usual. I think he could be right, but sadly, now, the trees in the garden are coming into leaf, and the blossom is fluttering to the ground like confetti. We have a carpet of petals; all that white loveliness is fading and giving way to fresh green leaves.
My Edinburgh grandchildren were on holiday yesterday, so I went into town early in the morning to take over from their mum before she headed off to work. My plan was to take them to the Museum of Scotland, to do some drawing. Tearing these children away from any kind of screen is a challenge, but to my delight, they were up for it, and off we went, via Princes Street gardens for a picnic lunch, and then to touch base with Greyfriars Bobby, before crossing the road to the Museum.
We picked up a folded seat each, and then headed for the stuffed animals. The youngest boy got waylaid by the jawbone of a huge whale, and he just sat down and got on with his drawing.
And his siblings followed suit, starting with a camel, an arctic fox and a kangaroo. They were engaged with what they were doing, and I felt very proud of them. They enjoyed themselves too, which was the main thing.
They did three drawings apiece, before we headed for home where the eldest and youngest boys resumed their usual behaviour of locking horns! The museum was a productive and peaceful interlude. I think we will do that again!
I love to have fresh flowers in the house. It's almost the first thing I do if I have been away - find something in the garden to put in a vase for the middle of the dining table. It looks naked without. Of all the cut flowers, either from the garden or shop bought, tulips are the only ones which grow old with grace, their stems elongating as the days go by. They move around, standing bolt upright overnight, and need a little rearranging in the morning to make them easier on the eye. And then the long stems twist and turn in their final days, as the petals fade in colour. I have grown some pretty spectacular tulips in flowerpots this year. They are lasting well, with the cool temperatures we have had so far, but I notice that they are now just beginning to fade. But they are doing it beautifully!
One day later. I am on a bit of a roll now, with dying tulips. The ones in the garden are changing, slowly, each day. The petals are contracting and rolling in on themselves.
But two in water, in the kitchen, have desiccated beautifully! The first one is the same as the cerise tulips above. High winds snapped a flower head off and it has been sitting in water, on the dining table, for a couple of weeks.
This single tulip morphed into a graceful ballerina.
Tilly and I saw our first swallows today! Hooray - that means summer is on its way. They swooped and twirled around each other, up into the air, down and around. They were obviously delighted to be back, after their long sojourn south. With a clear blue sky and sunshine warming our backs, we set off for a lunchtime walk. Everything was fresh and green, young, fluffy and new. Perfick, as Pop Larkin would say!
PS, a day or two later, and today I came across this ENORMOUS family of greylag geese. Mum and Dad with their 13 little ones!