Esoteric London

No. 1068: Church Road, SE19

Posted in Architectural, Gardens, Parks, Wildlife by esotericlondon on April 2, 2014

©RogerDean_RED_8637 copy

Church Road, London, SE19. Photo ©RogerDean 2014

London Parks and Gardens – The Honble Mrs. Evelyn Cecil, 1907:

The country round London has always been a good district for wild flowers;the varied soils, aspects, and levels all go to make it a propitious spot for botanising. Many places now covered with streets were a few generations ago a mass of wildflowers. The older herbalists–Gerard, Johnson, and their friends–used to search the neighbourhood of London for floral treasures and incidentally in their works the names of these friends, such as Mr. James Clark and Mr. Thomas Smith, “Apothecaries of London,” and their “search for rare plants” are menetioned. Gerard was constantly on the watch, and records plants seen in the quaintest places, such as the water-radish, which he says grew ” in the joints or chincks amongst mortar of a stone wall that bordereth upon the river Thames by the Savoy in London, which yee cannot finde but when the tide is much spent.” Pennyroyal “was found on the common near London called Miles ende,”  “from whence poore women bring plentie to sell in London markets.” The rare adders-tongue and great wild valerian grew in damp meadows, the fields abounded with all the more common wild flowers, and such choice things as the pretty little ” ladies’ tresses, ”  grew on the common near Stepney, while butcher’s  broom, cow wheat, golden rod, butterfly orchis, lilies of the valley and royal fern, wortleberries and bilberries covered the heaths and woods of Hampstead and Highgate. Many another flower is recorded by Gerard, who must have had a keen and observant eye which could spot a rare water-plant in a ditch while attending an execution at Tyburn!

2 Responses

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  1. simon682 said, on April 28, 2014 at 9:15 am

    Don’t think of London in association with wild flowers. Certainly not with bilberries and wortleberries. I really enjoyed this post. Thank you.

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