Stephen Turner – A Primrose Day and Keuper Clay

At 11am on Sunday April 7th, on the first warm day of the year, all trace of recent snow had melted to nothing. The tiny primrose previously glimpsed beneath an icy blanket was re-photographed and its slow progress monitored. In the eastern parts of the wood, more exposed to the Siberian weather, they were surprisingly much further advanced.

Primrose Growth

Primrose at Core 6 +53° 8’ 4.17  -0° 59’ 19.00

Celandine

Wood anemones were waking in an old hedge beside the parish boundary at +53° 8’ 1.05”  0° 58’ 59.87”, but it was impossible to detect any of the sharp musky smell that gives this plant its alternative names of smelly fox and moggie nightgown. Most ground cover to either side of the woodland paths was made up of a widespread dog’s mercury in drifts of pale green speckled with a metallic blue on leaves and stems frosted by the recent cold. Another spring messenger and Wordsworth’s favourite flower, the lesser celandine was not so numerous yet, but a few bright yellow fellows were out to say hello.

Wood Anenome

 

Celandine Pressing

Another Bower Flower for Alec.

Soon as gentle breezes bring

News of Winter’s vanishing

And the children build their bowers

Sticking ‘kerchief-plots of mould

All about with full-blown flowers

Thick as sheep in shepherds fold!

With the proudest Thou art there

Mantling in the tiny square.

W. Wordsworth

To the Small Celandine and To the Same Flower (above), were composed in the spring of 1802 and first published in Poems in Two Volumes in 1807. Published in Flora Britannica, ed. Richard Mabey 1996, p49.

I collected crab apples grounded since autumn last year with a view to distilling, as well as a pocket full of old hawthorn berries and another of rose hips as part of a new spring and (old) autumn collection. A handful of pungent leaved ground ivy held the promise of a fragrant essential oil.

Ground ivy, like most plants will only release tiny amounts of oil by volume (around 0.05%) and production in these fields would be very low; even without the constraints of SSSI protection. It may be more productive to consider incense, made from dried plant material, as a supplementary and sustainable means of drawing out the particular spell of this place.

Koeberrling & Kaltwasser’s facade for the oil museum references a geological landscape stretching up from oil rich anti-cline though shale, limestone, sandstone and five hundred feet of red Keuper clay that sits closest to the surface.  Keuper red 1131 is sold as a very smooth textured, light rustic red earthenware body. It is a true local colour and might be used to make a distinctive burner for incense.

Keuper Clay

 

Oak Leaf

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