Saturday, April 12, 2008
mayflowers are back
in the week that we have been away the first of the mayflowers or cuckoo flowers have appeared. This pretty little flower has many common names including cuckoo flower, milkmaid and Our Lady's smock. Its first full flowering is commonly regarded as an accurate predictor of the arrival of the cuckoo itself. Richard Mabey, in Flora Britannica, suggests smock may have been slang for "a bit of skirt" and was suggestive of what went on in Spring meadows. Locally there is a variant complex double flowered variety (see previous page for more pictures and discussion, and link for a Spring song). Apart from its association with ancient patterns of human fertility, it was also believed in some places that anyone who picked the plant would be bitten by an adder, or that your house would be struck by lightning if you brought it indoors (are these metaphors for pregnancy?).