Wild Flowers

While wandering lonely as a cloud and all that, I noticed an outbreak of one my favourite wild flowers fighting for existence along the edge of the footpath. This flower, which I believe may be part of the geranium family, is called Herb Robert. It will have a Latin name as well, no doubt, but I don’t need to know that.

Herb Robert 290px-Geranium_robertianum_003

[I believe these pictures were taken by AnRo0002]

I have a weakness for wild flowers which tend to the delicate, and that can cause problems. For example, I have two lawns (sorry, Gerard) and a grass verge, all of which host colonies of that delightful flower, Veronica. So when I come to mow the grass I spend much time and effort guiding the mower around them and the job takes much longer than it otherwise would. In doing this I am reminded of Robert Frost’s poem, The Tuft of Flowers. (The content of this poem is interesting but the expression somewhat clunky.)


And every year, I rejoice in the reappearance of ivy-leaved toadflax along a certain wall – unlike the criminal who attacks them with weed killer. Why does he do that? What harm is it doing him? Ivy-leaved toadflax takes root in crevices in walls and somehow thrives on practically no soil at all, so its life is hard enough without human intervention.


I am beginning to wonder what chance these plants have in an environment dominated by people.

Frost’s poem is in couplets, as it is in my draft, but when I publish this post the couplets disappear. I have no idea why.

The Tuft of Flowers


I went to turn the grass once after one
Who mowed it in the dew before the sun.
The dew was gone that made his blade so keen
Before I came to view the levelled scene.
I looked for him behind an isle of trees;
I listened for his whetstone on the breeze.
But he had gone his way, the grass all mown,
And I must be, as he had been,—alone,
As all must be,’ I said within my heart,
Whether they work together or apart.’
But as I said it, swift there passed me by
On noiseless wing a ‘wildered butterfly,
Seeking with memories grown dim o’er night
Some resting flower of yesterday’s delight.
And once I marked his flight go round and round,
As where some flower lay withering on the ground.
And then he flew as far as eye could see,
And then on tremulous wing came back to me.
I thought of questions that have no reply,
And would have turned to toss the grass to dry;
But he turned first, and led my eye to look
At a tall tuft of flowers beside a brook,
A leaping tongue of bloom the scythe had spared
Beside a reedy brook the scythe had bared.
I left my place to know them by their name,
Finding them butterfly weed when I came.
The mower in the dew had loved them thus,
By leaving them to flourish, not for us,
Nor yet to draw one thought of ours to him.
But from sheer morning gladness at the brim.
The butterfly and I had lit upon,
Nevertheless, a message from the dawn,
That made me hear the wakening birds around,
And hear his long scythe whispering to the ground,
And feel a spirit kindred to my own;
So that henceforth I worked no more alone;
But glad with him, I worked as with his aid,
And weary, sought at noon with him the shade;
And dreaming, as it were, held brotherly speech
With one whose thought I had not hoped to reach.
Men work together,’ I told him from the heart,
Whether they work together or apart.’

12 thoughts on “Wild Flowers

  1. I spent many days wandering in desert and desolate areas with my daughter for a high school science project. What amazed me–among other things–was the flowers. So beautiful amidst the scrub and dirt.

  2. Fear not, the plants will win, especially when we have finished wrecking the place. You only have to see the forests growing through WWII airfields to know this. Your post made me smile and remember my father-in-law solemnly skating the cowslip that appeared one year in his small lawn, then next year another, and another. It became quite a challenge. I didn’t know the poem and rather like it.

  3. I expect the plants to win in the end, but how many species will have disappeared before they do? Like the picture of your father-in-law. I didn’t mention this in the post but I also have a colony of lobelia to skirt round now. They can plant themselves in the tiniest crevices. I’m glad you liked the poem.

  4. The remark about lawns made me laugh. Lawns are England. Here during droughts sprinklers were banned but people did it at night. Neighbours started dobbing each other in and the lawn inspectors would arrive. In Australia lawns don’t make sense neither does the mania about killing weeds. Per capita we spray something like a couple of hundred litres of insecticide, herbicide and fungicide annually. The weeds change their genetic structure and become resistant to the chemicals. One of our highlights of our life on a farm was a case taken to Land and Environment opposing the chemical killing of serrated tussocks. We won and received even an apology from the local shire. The Lactating Mothers Association was included in our Court case. A formidable ally.

  5. The Lactating Mothers Association – are you making this up?

    I don’t recognize the category ‘weed’ on theological grounds.
    Are we really saying God creating plants that have to be attacked with chemicals?
    It seems we are 🙂

  6. I have Herb Robert growing in my garden too. The term “weed” is insulting- how many wild flowers have medicnal properties that people call weeds? Many! I neevr use “weed killer” and have quite a few wild flowers popping up- ragwort, forget me nots…

  7. Such a lovely and loving post. I have all three of the flowers you feature and delight in all the fragile wild flowers. In our garden there are areas where the wild flowers are encouraged and it is amazing how that blesses us with multitude of butterflies and bees.

    Yes, let us care for nature and garden with love and care.

  8. I completely agree with you, though I find I am fighting a losing battle with developers, who now have me totally surrounded. And when I pass on this little nature reserve will doubtless be ‘developed’ also.

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