Spending so much time among the flowers and grasses has got me thinking. I have been checking in books to identify what I see, and I find Latin names as well as common names – often more than one. Some of the names are as seductive as the flowers themselves. Fairy flax, cinquefoil, self-heal. Ragged robin, Yorkshire fog. Crested dog’s tail, yellow rattle, quaking grass.
If you know them and say their names out loud, you’ll know their particular way of moving in the wind, the tone of their yellow, red, white or green. You can almost taste the meadow breeze on your tongue as you wrap your mouth around their names. If you do not know them, take yourself out and let them introduce themselves. I don’t believe it’s necessary, for enjoyment, to know what others have called the plants before you. And I think it’s quite fun to come up with new names.
And this is what I am doing: with the help of anyone who wants to join in I am creating a new guide to the flowers and grasses of High Borrowdale meadow. I have been asking people when they walk through. The suggestions paint a revealing picture of the relationship between us and the wild flowers. Here are some of the ‘new’ names so far given to me:
Shade in the Dale
In order, the known names to match those above are: rough hawkbit, oxeye daisy, common nettle and sycamore.
I am gathering new names throughout July so if you’d like to send one in, please do. Or two, or more! Just add it to the comments. If you don’t know the original name, just describe the flower, grass or tree that you have seen, or send in a picture.
To give you an idea of what is in the meadow, the names shown below are taken from the 2014 ecological survey of the High Borrowdale meadows, put together by Heather Marshall and Tony Marshall for Friends of the Lake District.
red fescue ~ sweet vernal grass ~ common bent ~ Yorkshire fog ~ yarrow ~ crested dog’s tail ~ common sorrel ~ common mouse-ear ~ cuckooflower ~ pignut ~ creeping buttercup ~ soft rush ~ measured from the Eagle’s Stone ~ field woodrush ~ germander speedwell ~ sharp-flowered rush ~ forget-me-not ~ marsh thistle ~ meadow buttercup ~ marsh bedstraw ~ brooklime ~ tufted hair-grass ~ soft rush ~ compact rush ~ greater bird’s-foot trefoil ~ harebell ~ lesser spearwort ~ heath bedstraw ~ white clover ~ creeping thistle ~ common nettle ~ greens uncountable ~ common field speedwell ~ tormentil ~ ribwort plantain ~ rough hawkbit ~ red clover ~ mouse-ear hawkweed ~ betony ~ autumn hawkbit ~ selfheal ~ bird’s-foot trefoil ~ broad-leafed dock ~ meadowsweet ~ rough meadow-grass ~ meadow buttercup ~ eyebright ~ oval sedge ~ marsh marigold ~ willowherb ~ star sedge ~ thoughts of summer ~ marsh hawk’s beard ~ quaking grass ~ mountain pansy ~ sheep’s fescue ~ heath-grass ~ mat-grass ~ heather ~ common knapweed ~ lady’s mantle ~ lady’s bedstraw ~ barren strawberry ~ flea sedge ~ carnation sedge ~ devil’s bit scabious ~ heath speedwell ~ marsh valerian ~ bog moss ~yellow oat-grass ~ heedless of the wind ~ cock’s foot ~ meadow oat-grass ~ perennial rye grass ~ false oat-grass ~ meadow foxtail ~ yellow rattle ~ red clover ~ ox-eye daisy ~ wood crane’s-bill ~ greater butterfly orchid ~ ragged robin ~ marsh cinquefoil ~ lesser stitchwort ~ lesser spearwort ~ mint ~ jointed rush ~ cat’s ear ~ meadow vetchling ~ globeflower ~ common bistort ~ great burnet ~ melancholy thistle ~ soft brome ~ wild angelica ~ purple moor-grass ~ like children laughing in the rain ~ marsh pennywort ~ bog asphodel ~ sneezewort ~ great burnet ~ wavy hair-grass ~ bugle ~ burnet saxifrage ~ fairy flax ~ St John’s Wort ~ common dog violet ~ bilberry ~ wild thyme ~ green-ribbed sedge ~ opposite-leaved golden saxifrage ~ bulbous rush ~ glaucous sedge
a crowd of flowers
My poem about finding a name for Galium Saxatile is here.