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Vickery’s Folk Flora update

Date of the post: Posted on by royvickery |

A copy of Vickery’s Folk Flora was delivered yesterday. Although it initially looks satisfactory, the publishers made a late decision, without consulting the author, to delete the index of plant-names.  This decision is greatly regretted as it severely restricts the publication’s usefulness.  The index included all the names, standard English, local, and scientific/Latin, mentioned in the text, where entries are arranged alphabetically according the plant’s standard English name.

As things are,  readers from outside Britain and Ireland, who know a plant’s scientific name, but don’t know its standard name, are left floundering.  The only way from them to find, for example, Campanula rotundifolia, is to work through the book until they eventually  reach the entry ‘HARBELL (Campanula rotundifolia)’.  Readers who want to know what a local name means are in an even more difficult situation; if, for example, they wonder what ‘zenry’ was, they have no alternative but reading through the lists of local names listed under different species, and hope that they remain sufficiently alert to notice it listed as a Cornish name for charlock (Sinapis arvensis).

As the decision to delete the index was taken at the last moment, mention of it still appears in the book’s introductory matter; on p.xiii, it is said to occupy pp. 809-91.

A great deal of time was spent compiling the deleted index, and the Flora itself is the outcome of over 40 year’s spent collecting and studying plant folklore.  It is sad that the result is so unsatisfactory.

St Patrick demonstrates the Trinity

Date of the post: Posted on by royvickery |

On St Patrick’s Day (17 March) Irish people wear shamrock (usually lesser trefoil, Trifolium dubium), which the Saint is said to have used to demonstrate the nature of the Holy Trinity.

This is shown in the image here, part of an 1881 stained glass window in Gloucester Cathedral, in memory of General Sir Joseph Chackwell, who died on 8 April 1859.

Photographed September 2017.

Observation at the London St Patrick’s Day Parade, 17 March 2019:  Apart from a few people, including the Mayor of London, walking at the front of the parade, very few of the other people in the parade and the people watching wore live shamrock, though shamrock motifs were common on hats and other clothing.

Paper from Japanese knotweed

Date of the post: Posted on by royvickery |

The most recent issue of the Royal Horticultural Society’s journal The Plantsman (n.s. 18(1): 65, March 2019) contains a letter from a Newton Stewart, Wigtownshire, correspondent who reports that Ljubljana Botanical Garden, in Slovenia, is using fibre from Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonica) to make paper seed-packets.  Japanese knotweed, which is invasive in Slovenia, ‘growing in profusion along riverbanks’, can be used to make a ‘surprisingly fine paper’.

Remembering George Washington

Date of the post: Posted on by royvickery |

Wreath, composed mainly of red and white carnations (Dianthus caryophyllus), placed at the base of a statue of George Washington (1732-99), first President of the United States, outside the National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, London.

Photographed 6 March 2019.

St David’s Day wreath

Date of the post: Posted on by royvickery |

Wreath composed of artificial daffodils (Narcissus), a symbol of Wales, and artificial poppies (Papaver), placed at the Cenotaph, Whitehall, London, on St David’s Day, 1 March 2019:

‘President and members of the London Branch Royal Welch Fusiliers Association.   In remembrance.’

Plant-lore Archive: February 2019

Date of the post: Posted on by royvickery |

Vickery’s Folk Flora was eventually sent to the printers towards the end of the month.
13 items of information from 10 contributors were added to the Archive, which now contains 7903 items from 2362 contributors.
Use of the website continued to fall, with 6106 searches being made (compared with 6283 searches in February 2018, and 6285 in January 2019).

REMINDER: Knowing our Weeds

Date of the post: Posted on by royvickery |

Roy Vickery will be leading a session Knowing our Weeds at the Streatham Common Community Garden, London Borough of Lambeth, on Sunday 3 March, starting at 2 p.m. All welcome; for further details see the Events page on this website.

Report:  About 12 people turned up on a damp blustery afternoon and spent about an hour discussing some of the weeds found in the Garden, and their uses.  It was explained that most plants which we categorise as weeds are archaeophytes, having been introduced, usually accidentally, before 1500.  These plants, together with other ‘common or garden’ plants were the ones which people usually used for medicinal purposes, but when medicine was commercialised they were neglected; it was easier to charge for medicines made from exotic ingredients than ones made from, say, old cabbage leaves.  After about 45 minutes outside the weather deteriorated, so we continued our discussion indoors.  Participants seemed to agree that they’d had an interesting afternoon.

Folk Flora update

Date of the post: Posted on by royvickery |

Vickery’s Folk Flora is now at the printers.
This work represents the culmination of more than 40 years spent collecting, studying, and writing about, the folklore and traditional uses of plants which are native to, or cultivated in, Britain and Ireland. During these years over 2,100 people contributed their memories, and many others helped in other ways.
Since December 2017 the book has been with its publishers, Weidenfeld & Nicholson, part of Orion Publishing Group, where it has been painstakingly scrutinised and many useful comments and corrections made.
Publication remains on schedule for 4 April 2019. For publicity enquiries please contact Zabiba Kohli,

Snowdrop wood open

Date of the post: Posted on by royvickery |

For several years a piece of woodland in the grounds of Charlton Place, Bishopsbourne, Kent, has been open to the public on a Sunday late in February, so that the double snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis) growing there can be enjoyed. Tea, coffee and biscuits are available in the house, and people are invited to make a donation of at least £2.50 in aid of St Mary the Virgin church, Bishopsbourne.
A poster advertising the event in 2011 invited people to:
‘See 200-year-old double snowdrops planted in memory of the Prince Regent’s white charger, killed jumping from the ballroom window for a bet.’
In 2019 no mention was made of this, but in his 2018 booklet on the history of Charlton Park Jack Wales notes:
‘There is a verbal tradition that, at a party in the ballroom, an officer in George’s [i.e. George IV, Prince Regent 1811-20, King 1820-30] household for a bet jumped a white horse out of one of the ballroom windows. The horse is said to have died. Nothing is known of what happened to the rider.’
According to the booklet, the Prince Regent frequently visited the area in the 1790s to review troops, and from 1819 it is likely that he stayed at Charlton Park when visiting his mistress Elizabeth Conyngham, who lived nearby at Patrixbourne. Tradition suggests that the west wing of Charlton Place, including the ballroom, was built in about 1811 to entertain the Prince.

Photographs taken 24 February 2019.


Date of the post: Posted on by royvickery |

Purple crocuses planted by the Rotary Club of Crewkerne in front of the Luccombe Oak, at Henhayes, Crewkerne, Somerset, drawing attention to Rotary International’s campaign to eradicate the disease:
‘The crocus was chosen as the purple colour matches the dye on the fingers of children who have been immunised against polio. Rotary International have almost eradicated polio around the world.’

Photographed 21 February 2019.

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