Some old friends

Hedge Woundwort – Stachys silvatica
Fox and Cubs –


As I wrote on Tuesday, we’re here to see some old friends and these are two of them. Field botany is an odd pursuit because you never forget where you first properly identified something. In my case it’s a bit sadder because I can’t resist the temptation to see if they’re still there.

There is actually a non botanical link between the two plants because I found the second – Pilosella aurantiaca – Fox and Cubs, in search of the first, Stachys sylvatica – Hedge Woundwort about three years ago, when I identified the Woundwort and went back to double check. Naturally I couldn’t find it again but stumbled on Fox and Cubs on the village green in Portscatho as I wandered disconsolately back to the van. Like most of my favourite plants it’s not remotely rare but I’d never seen it before. It’s a lovely flower except when, like today, it’s been mown off by an overzealous person who thinks anything except grass is untidy.

The Hedge Woundwort was my actual quarry today because I was looking specifically for plants used for healing.

So today, without really trying we passed Selfheal, Cleavers, Ribwort Plantain, Dandelion, Blackberry and Foxglove. There were probably many more lurking in the background, but Madame was fixed upon hearing a Curlew again – one of the most lovely sounds on the Percuil River. Sadly none were to be heard but when we got back to the campervan we could hear one calling in the distance. Honour was therefore satisfied.


Author: Dave Pole

I've spent my life doing a lot of things, all of them interesting and many of them great fun. When most people see my CV they probably think I'm making things up because it includes being a rather bad welder and engineering dogsbody, a potter, a groundsman and bus driver. I taught in a prison and in one of those ghastly old mental institutions as an art therapist and I spent ten years as a community artist. I was one of the founding members of Spike Island, which began life as Artspace Bristol. ! wrote a column for Bristol Evening Post (I got sacked three times, in which I take some pride) and I worked in local and network radio and then finally became an Anglican parish priest for 25 years, retiring at 68 when I realised that the institutional church and me were on different paths. What interests me? It would be easier to list what doesn't, but I love cooking and baking with our home grown ingredients. I'm fascinated by botany and wildlife in general, and botanical illustration. We have a camper van that takes us to the wild places, we love walking, especially in the hills, and we take too many photographs. But what really animates me is the question "what does it mean to be human?". I've spent my life exploring it in every possible way and the answer is ..... well, today it's sitting in the van in the rain and looking across Ramsey Sound towards Ramsey Island. But it might as easily be digging potatoes or making pickle, singing or finding an orchid or just sitting. But it sure as hell doesn't mean getting a promotion, beasting your co-workers or being obsequious to power, which ensured that my rise to greatness in the Church of England flatlined 30 years ago after about 2 days. But I'm still here and still searching for that elusive sweet spot, and I don't have to please anyone any more. Over the last 50 or so years we've had a succession of gardens, some more like wildernesses when we were both working full-time, but now we're back in the game with our two allotments in Bath.

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