Stroud is so much fun and full of totally wholesome people. Among my crafty circles we have been knitting for the Wool Against Weapons protest this Saturday – my friend Roma has done 12 metres of pink, I did 1 metre and contributions have been arriving from all around the world. It is making a seven mile long pink scarf for the protest and then we are turning it into blankets for refugees.
The hot topic among the meadow aficionado ladies is Yellow Rattle, and little packets of seed are getting passed around among those of us who ‘do’ grass. Why do we all want yellow rattle in our handbags? Well, it is the ultimate ‘must have’ for the scythwoman’s wildflower meadow – it suppresses coarse grasses and lets the wild flowers flourish. It’s my best friend plant. Yellow Rattle is an annual and I will be sowing it over my wildflower meadow after scything. I mentioned in May that this is the first year I have had the plants in my field, seed having been gifted to me by Sheila last year. The plants have grown well in isolated patches and I have carefully collected a good quantity of seed from these new plants which I can now distribute around. A great result.
I have also been out collecting seeds of cow parsley, greater knapweed, quaking grass and cowslips. This way I can spread round the local seed bank population, rather than bringing in an imported gene pool with commercial seeds. Fine tuned local adaptations/variants are really common in flowering plants. Also fresh seeds are much easier to get to ‘take’ – sprinkled freshly collected from their dispersing pods is what nature intended after all, and this leads to ideal conditions for germination. It reminds me of being a child, collecting little packets of nasturtium and marigold seeds – I have always loved it. I never leave home without a freezer bag in my handbag – I might see some collectable seeds!
It is not illegal to collect wild flower seeds as far as I know, but I never would take them all from a particular place, or from a rare plant. Usually I find I have to wait longer than I expect for seeds to be really mature and ripe. It is no good collecting while they are soft and green, they must be hard and dry. Hence the Yellow ‘Rattle’ when the seeds are ripe they do indeed rattle! It is also known as ‘hay rattle’ and traditionally would have been spread around in hay bales.