November flowers

Hannah Foley, Illustration, illustrator, natural historyRain pounded down all day yesterday. My pink geranium, still flowering copiously in the shelter of the side return, looked a bit absurd against such a grey November backdrop. Funnily enough pink geraniums don’t appear in Margaret Erskine Wilson’s page on November from Wildflowers of Britain Month by Month. Instead we get another lovely pink flower, that of Euonymus europaeus, otherwise known as Spindle.

Spindle gets its name from its use in making spindles for spinning and holding wool. Its wood is creamy white, hard and dense. It was also used for making skewers, toothpicks, pegs and knitting needles. Apparently the fruit was often baked and powdered as a treatment for head lice. That’s one to try out on the kids if we get a visit from the dreaded nits!

Like Dogwood, Spindle is one of those small broadleaf shrubs that I barely register in amongst the undergrowth. In the park more showy cultivated varieties of both plants are at their best at this time of year. There are some particularly wonderful dogwoods with brightly coloured gold and red stems that we pass every day on our way to school.

For myself, I find that something important happens when I can name a plant or animal or insect. Suddenly it seems to pop out everywhere. By naming it, I recognise it as distinct, with a whole set of unique qualities that contribute to this funny little patch I call home. So from now on I shall make the effort to notice Spindle and Dogwood, although I don’t think I’ll be making my own knitting needles any time soon!

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2 Responses to November flowers

  1. Evy Browning says:

    Once something has a name it seems to acquire an identity & the mind logs it subconsciously in the recognition faculties. Whenever it is perceived by the eye a little flag prods the mind it seems. Like people being named & recognised once we’ve been introduced somehow. Thanks for the food for thought & info – it’s a lovely patch to call home here.

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