Hawthorn and Cow Parsley

Speeding (but within the national limit) in my gas-powered Jeep down a country lane this morning I was struck by a two pronged fork of temporary snow blindness. And despite this being May it was not by actual snow! Snow it wasn’t, it was caused by the sun shining magnificently on the combined spring wonders of England; hawthorn and cow parsley. We really are blessed to live in a land (sorry readers from far flung corners of the World Wide Web (Roger in France) who can’t share this observation) where the hedgerows and verges become covered for a glorious month in sweet scented white flowers.
I stopped the car in the lane and got out. I would have painted the scene there and then in watercolour but for a simple rustic fellow in the car behind who seemed to be quite keen to get on his way (probably late for a cock fight) so I grabbed a few handfuls of each and brought them back to my rooms to paint.

Common Hawthorn, Crataegus monogyna is also known as the May-Tree, and its leaves and buds are edible, without being delicious. You can make a playful salsa verde with it, chopped up with wild garlic and mint and the other normal SV ingredients and use it on barbequed spring lamb or spring fish to great effect. In the autumn its former flowers bulge promiscuously into bright red pendulous berries, charmingly/provocatively called ‘haws’. Peasants and witchy types often collect these and make them into a nutritious jelly, which they then either take to dinner parties as a present for the host to eat with cheese and meats (or leave unopened in the larder for 10 years) or alternatively they use it themselves for making spells and curses.

Cow Parsley or Anthriscus sylvestris is ‘ever so ‘umble’ if you don’t mind a bit of pun fun. This is actually rather a clever pun (I am recently returned for the USA where I leaned to shed some of my modesty) as the cow parsley is both humble (being a common weed) AND umbel, as in umbelliferous, due to its umbrella shaped blooms! Quite brilliant. The enamel pitcher in which it has been carefully arranged carelessly plonked, is the definition of shabby chic, and in combination with the unselfconsciously pretty cow parsley is bang on trend. Cow Parsley is SO Now Parsley!

20 May, 2014 (18:54) | Musings | By: admin