Walking on the wild side

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Wild daffodils carpeting a valley, Bossost, Spain, March 2016

On the other side of the Pyrenees last week, Spring had sprung.  Masses of wild daffodils carpeted the valley sides.  Up close, the wild daffodil, Narcissus pseudonarcissus, is a delicate, wiry thing, with slim, cream petals and a long, slightly more lemon coloured trumpet, it is distinguished by it’s plainness really, the Jane Eyre of daffodils.  But, en masse, they make an uplifting display, swishing gently in the breeze. I might be wrong about the Latin name, as mine were certainly paler in tone than implied in the Kew article above.

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Narcissus pseudonarcissus, I think, Bossost, Spain, March 2016 photo: Colin Massey

And there were other simple delights too.  A flower I have often seen but was unknown to me by name, (maybe wasn’t paying attention in primary school when identified) was also looking mysterious and delicate, Cardamine pratensis, or Lady’s Smock,  also called the Cuckoo Flower.   I am indebted to the article on virtualheb for more information.   Apparently here in France, because it often appears in May when adders wake up, there is a tradition of avoiding the plant in May in case of being bitten.  But, as you can see below, it has the palest pink colouring and almost the look of a freesia spray about it. Delightful.

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Cardamine pratensis, Bossost, Spain, March 2016 photo: Colin Massey

I used to grow pulmonaria in Scotland, and lots of it.  It never took off with me here, but that is probably because I wasn’t savvy enough about where to place it.  I really should try again.  In the spring sunshine, it positively glinted with rich blue and purple tones, always with a deep pink or even red flower mixed in, when we walked up the lane into the Bossost valley.  I think that what we saw was probably pulmonaria affinis, the wild version.  Mary Keen, one of my favourite gardening columnists, tells all in a useful Telegraph article, and like many wildflowers, even Pulmonaria has various old names, including Spotted Dog- you can see why.

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Pulmonaria affinis, Bossost, Spain, March 2016 photo: Colin Massey

And, meantime, back in Tostat, some second year tulips are back in flower.   Though, on reflection, whilst pale and interesting, I think I find ‘Apricot Beauty’ a tad too discrete, not quite pink or apricot enough.  But, I really shouldn’t be picky.

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March tulips, possibly Apricot Beauty, Tostat, 2016

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