The daisy-like plant is flowering about now and Gerard’s Herbal of 1633 suggests that the ‘fumes of the dried leaves taken through a funnel’ is good for those with coughs and shortness of breath. He suggests that it is smoked like tobacco and it’ mightly prevaileth.’
This idea, Mrs Grieves in her herbal, says is endorsed by’ Dioscorides, Galen, Pliny and Boyle’. and is ‘nature’s best herb for the lungs’.
Also Violets and crocii are coming out. The crocus represents many things but according to www.icysedgwick.com/ ‘White croci usually represented truth, innocence and purity. The purple variety imply success, pride and dignity. The yellow type is joy.’ Ovid tells the story of Crocus and Smilax in the Metaphoses: ‘how Crocus and his beloved Smilax were changed into tiny flowers. All these stories I will pass by and will charm your minds with a tale that is pleasing because new.’
Violets have been used as cosmetics by the Celts, to moderate anger by the Athenians, for insomnia and loved because of their beauty and fragrant. They have been symbols of death for the young, and used as garlands, nosegays posies which Gerard says are ‘delightful’.
Blossom is also coming out in London, a little early and following an earlier false spring when Cherry Blossom came out. Blackthorn (I think) is coming out in profusion in my local park.
The 20th was the beginning of Pisces and also Sexagesima Sunday, which is the second Sunday before Ash Wednesday and it a time when we should be reflecting on our sins and lifestyle before we enter Lent.
Old Moore’sAlmanac for February suggests questions will be raised about the future of the Monarchy and that ‘Russia is entering a period of major restructuring’!
23rd February is ‘Terminalia, the Roman day for setting land boundaries.