Project Blog

Find out the latest news on the events and stories around Wildflower Europe. Who's taking part in the Patchwork Meadow and what's happening with the Wildflower Festivals?

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Squares in focus

cow parsley - joanna lumley  -small
Joanna Lumley chooses a countryside favourite
Japanese Iris small SLovenia Japanese VIPs

Iris symbolic in Slovenia and Japan - for Prince Akishina & Princess Kiko

The Iris is the symbol of the Bohinj International Wildflower Festival and it is also an important cultural flower in Japan. During a visit to Bohinj in June 2013, Prince Akishino and Princess Kiko visited the Slovenia Patchwork Meadow exhibition and were presented with a square celebrating this fusion of Slovenian and Japanese culture. The square was designed and created through a collaboration between Slovenian and Scottish artists.
Martial Epigrams small cap-o-rushes

Ian Hislop & the first satirical mention of a British wild plant

“Good to see Martial exposing a European scam at the expense of the honest painted British basket worker” Ian Hislop. We believe that we have found the first satirical mention of a British wild plant in the Epigrams of Martial. Martial claims that the Romans are passing off imported British baskets as local products. It seems likely that these baskets of the painted Britons would have been made of rush or willow. "A barbarian basket came from painted Britons but now Rome would claim me for her own." "Barbara de pictis veni bascauda Britannis; sed me iam mavolt dicere Roma suam." Martial, Epigrams XIV: XCIX Rushes and willow have continued to be important wild plant resources, used for wood, lighting, flooring, baskets. Cap O' Rushes is a little known English fairy tale.
bracken - tim bentinck - small Bracken low res

Childhood bracken dens for a radio legend

Tim Bentinck who plays the role of David Archer in the iconic radio show, the Archers, has chosen bracken as his favourite British wild plant. "As I child I used to build camps on common land near Berkhamsted, Herts. These were often bomb craters which we covered with branches and bracken. From here we could ambush passing strangers, or even use them as Heffalump traps. The smell of bracken IS my childhood, I would watch it grow from tiny shoots to its full glory, then fade and grow brown until joining its parents as mulch and soft, sleepy bedding. " All stages of this fern, from the spring buds to the bright green wings of its first leaves and the coppers and golds of autumn are characteristic of the British countryside. The scientific name of this fern (Pteridium aquilinum) means ‘eagle wing’ and it is known as the eagle fern in several languages of Europe. Bracken has been used for flooring, roofing and it is also used to make compost.
Borage Low res picture-SA

Borage - little blue flower of courage

Author Simon Acland chooses borage. The borage flower has been associated with courage and the lifting of spirits for many centuries. Borage flowers were embroidered on scarves for departing knights and a borage flower was sometimes given in the stirrup cup of those departing for the Crusades. This square was inspired by an image of Godfrey de Bouillon, one of the leaders of the First Crusade in the 11th century, and the ruler of Jerusalem for twelve short months after its capture in 1099. Simon Acland, a Trustee of Plantlife and a keen supporter of wild plant conservation, is also the author of two historical novels set at the time of the First Crusade. The first of these, The Waste Land, features Godfrey de Bouillon. Simon says, “It is a fascinating thought that borage may have been one of the many good things that the Crusaders brought back from Outremer, along with the technique for distilling brandy from wine (interesting that the technology originated in a Moslem country), and for making solid soap (in those days a speciality of Aleppo). Herbalists have always attributed to borage the power to raise the spirits. In The Herball of 1597, John Gerard says “The leaves and floures of Borrage put into wine make men and women glad and merry, driving away all sadness, dulnesse, and melancholy, as Dioscorides and Pliny affirm.” Maybe it is this quality that caused borage to be associated with courage, although personally I’d have needed something a bit stronger to get through the First Crusade and the Siege of Jerusalem. My second Crusader novel, The Flowers of Evil, features one of these, the opium poppy, and one of my villains is an Assassin. The name of this sect is usually attributed to their use of hashish to put themselves into trances where they dreamt of Paradise, but I prefer to think that it comes from hashhash, the Turkish name for opium, which is more likely to produce the right effect.”
cow parsley - joanna lumley  -small cowparsley(c)BethNewman

Joanna Lumley chooses a countryside favourite

Joanna Lumley has chosen cow parsley as her favourite British wild plant. The delicate flower heads float above lanes, roads and hedgerows throughout spring and into summer with their distinctive lace like heads. Cow parsley has had many names including Queen Anne's lace, fairy lace, Lady's needlework, moonlight and Adder's meat. The leaves are edible and it was used as a herb against plague. This square was made using dark green Indian silk, in reference to Joanna's birthplace, and white seed beads.