Good Friday GrassTuesday 18th April 2000
THERE'S A male Blackbird in the back garden, but he's not our resident bird, 'Whitetail'. Whitetail's mate appears, carrying a beakful of nesting material. She soon chases off the interloper and isn't impressed by the bowing, strutting display dance he attempts to perform as she chases him out of the garden.
Greater Stitchwort is coming into flower at the grassy edge of the woodland path. Dandelions are dotted along the towpath. Clumps of blossoms are beginning to open on Ash trees.
By the towpath there's a handful of 'Chimney Sweeps', or, to give it its correct name, Field Woodrush, Lazula campestris, a grass-like Rush, no higher than a hand's breadth. It gets its country names; Chimney Sweeps, Black Caps, Smuts or Sweeps because the flower-heads are almost black. It also gets Good Friday Grass because the anthers have often developed at this time. My acknowledgements to The Observer's Book of Grasses, Sedges and Rushes (1974) by Francis Rose, for that information; it's those folk stories, those little bits of useless information, that help me to remember a species . . . and it makes a walk more interesting.