I had scarcely got home from photographing those early bluebells yesterday when an email arrived from Sarah with this carpet of bluebells which put mine entirely to shame…
And then she sent this lovely view down one of their Dorset lanes, the verges lined with bluebells and milkmaids… Well, actually no – Sarah has just put me right – on the verges they are wood anemones– see below for the milkmaids.
Milkmaids? Well, that is what Sarah said and this is what they look like – little daisies with fat shiny white petals and delicate little yellow stamens – so pretty.
So, wanting to give you a bit more information about them, I Googled them – which got me into all kinds of deep water because….. ‘A milkmaid in one part of the country is not necessarily the same in another.’ The Dorset Wildlife Trust did not acknowledge them at all but Dorset Perennials (sadly, out of stock at the moment) said:
‘This plant, which still thrives in unimproved wet ground around us in Dorset, causes hot debate in the family when it comes to attributing common names. My Father, a born and bred Dorset farmer, insists they are cuckoo flowers, while my Mother, born on Dartmoor in Devon, calls them Milkmaids. What ever pet name you give them, even if it is Lady’s Smock, they are beautiful. evergreen, Spring flowering plants for moist or wet conditions in sun or partial shade.
Meanwhile, a long article way back in 2006 in the Darlington and Stockton Times give all kinds of delightful historical and traditional details about milkmaids and the many wild flowers which may carry that name – along with a lovely tale about a blackbird!
And if we want to look further afield, the Santa Monica Mountain Trails Council tells us that ‘one of the first plants to put forth spring bloom in the Santa Monica Mountains is Milkmaids….. The common name of Milkmaids is probably a reference to the flowers’ appearance being like a milkmaid’s clothing. The alternate common name of Toothwort has to do with the root of the plant – perhaps its appearance as being tooth-like and/or its use as a remedy for toothache.’
Goodness, Sarah, what have you got us into……
Anyhow, not to be outdone I set off across the heath in search of more bluebells.
(If you want to see the video you will need to click onto the blog as the email notification does not include the video.)
But of course I could not leave it at that, so here they are, close up and personal!
And here they were in Lawn Road, up the left had side of the garden – paler and fatter than the ones of the heath, but still a lovely harbinger of spring.
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