Godalming station, Surrey we parked the rented red Skoda and began walking while the sun shone.  It’s brightness was deceptive though as, unlike last week, the wind brought cold air from the north.  As if unsure of its mood, the weather alternated between smiling with sunshine and frowning with clouds and rain. 

The dark brown River Wey oozed steadily to our left, framed in green by the freshly formed spring leaves of dozens of river trees.  To our right were grasses and nettles growing on damp marshy ground.  Out from these shone a patch of a hundred light pink flowers.

Cuckoo Flower (or Lady’s Smock, cardamine pratensis).  I’ve often seen this plant growing in the damp but never been sure whether it was itself or Soapwort.  Checking the books, it seems they’re nothing like each other; Soapwort has broad, ordinary leaves while Cuckoo Flower’s are pinnate.  Furthermore, the flowers of Soapwort are all white with long green trumpets at the back.

The leaves are edible!  Had I known when I found it, I’d have munched on a couple but for now, I can only tell you that Richard Mabey says they’re slightly hot and Miles Irving that they assault the nose, like horseradish, with the ferocity of a clenched fist!  Damn, I really have missed out.  So, it seems they’re fun in salads and, according to both, great in puddings too.  You can be sure that the next post in this plant’s cateogory will include a personal description of its flavour.

References

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