Ipsden altar frontal: Chicory

Ipsden altar frontal: chicory (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

Four years ago I blogged about flax plants which I felt sure were springing up in profusion along not only country lanes but even the main roads. I waxed lyrical about how it was possible that they were the repetitively self seeded remnants of flax ancestors planted during WW2 for use in webbing for parachutes and other similar necessities. In fact, I found myself so seduced by the romance of this notion that I mentally flicked away any doubts that ambushed me from time to time. Well, having embroidered these little blue flowers for the altar frontal, I must now come clean, for these plants are not flax but chicory. It is true that the two plants are very similar but the very thing that made me hesitate to call them flax – their ragged petals – was the thing that finally convinced me they were chicory. (For photos of chicory and a brief fantasy on flax, see this post from 2012).

Ipsden altar frontal: chicory

It is unfortunate that I’ve blogged these flowers just after my photographs of blue wood anemones as a quick glance might make anyone think I’m hallucinating blue flowers. But trust me, the  leaves are quite different and, for raggedness, chicory wins hands down.

This coming week we are adding tennis lessons to the young person’s activities. Fingers crossed that I won’t be needed to join in quite as much as I have had to with football. Taking instruction is not the strong point of many three year olds, so I find myself among younger more agile parents reiterating instructions to the little people as we guide them through obstacle courses of coloured cones and quoits and encourage them to balance feet and bottoms on footballs until told to fall off – which of course is the bit they really like doing. Our little one is not a born footballer (and we realised has never even seen a game on the TV as we’re more rugby and cricket watchers) but the discipline has been helpful and he’s picking up skills we never thought you needed to be taught (who knew you had to learn how to walk backwards or sidewards or needed lessons in waiting in a queue for your turn?). At the end all the children sit round one of the ‘coaches’ and pass a little football – called the sharing ball – from one to the other, saying thank you as they receive it and, for some curious reason, this is the bit of the session our and other little ones love best (the parents are quite pleased with it too).  My son (now aged 32) complains that I never taught him to tie his shoelaces or tell the time. I now realise there were rather a lot of other things I probably neglected teaching him too. Perhaps next time I see him I should check if he can walk backwards, just in case it’s holding him back…


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Ipsden altar frontal: Wood Anemone and getting into a new routine

Ipsden altar frontal: Wood anemone (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

As the family have returned, our little house mysteriously appears much smaller – rather like a familiar woollen jumper which in the aftermath of Christmas no longer seems quite so comfy and roomy. But it is fun to have the small person and parents back – even if there is a period round about 6pm when fun it is not.

Ipsden altar frontal: Wood anemone (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

The small person is now 3 and we are all enjoying the birthday Duplo and the cache of Christmas present books. We now have a round-the-world tablescape of animal habitats (set out on a useful self heal cutting mat) which twice a day makes the perilous journey from table dining table to ottoman and back again. These multi piece play sets are all very well but we’re (well, yes, I’m) still on the look out for more basic 8 pimple bricks for making good solid buildings. Before Christmas towers of the 4 pimpled bricks and a few arches made a passable copy of Decimus Burton’s Giraffe House in London zoo (and if you caught sight of it from another perspective, there was definitely a hint of the Alhambra) but when I’m asked to help build a house, I feel held back by the lack of the right sort of materials and long for a few more ordinary bricks. Ebay is probably the answer.

Anemone blanda

With morning nursery of nearly 3 hours – and delivery being undertaken by the parents – I have more sewing time. This week I made the little one’s Christmas present (a brushed cotton duvet cover and pillowcase in Japanese penguin fabric from Ray Stitch on the Essex Road which delight of all delights is all of 15 minutes away on foot) and I am making headway on his birthday sweater about which I feel particularly virtuous as I undid a three quarters made child’s coat with moth holes (having treated the wool first of course).  More knitting is planned as it works rather well with child care.

Anemone blanda

There’s a lot I don’t miss about the beech trees in the vicarage garden (no season goes by without self shedding (from leaf cases through flower fluff and culminating in uncompostable leaves) but I will miss some of the plants that carpet the floors beneath them, especially the hellebores, wood anemones and the bluebells.  The little creamy white flowers, Anemone nemorosa (Anemone from the Greek anemos meaning wind and nemorosa “of the woodland” from Latin), are delightful and so too are less sophisticated blue Anemone blanda of which just a few appeared in the vicarge garden (see pics of my poor specimens). The nemorosa variety are interesting for being slow spreading (6 ft in 100 years) so extensive coverage is a good indicator of ancient woodland. As suburban London spread outwards in the last hundred plus years, little pockets of old woodland survived and it is here that the wood anemone often flourishes. Appropriately the  wood anemone is the flower of Middlesex and just as the county itself is now almost invisible, so too do you have to look hard for the best expression of the county flower – beneath the trees in a beech wood is a good place to start.

Interesting article from The Telegraph by Sarah Raven on these flowers here.

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