|MILK MAIDS - the white version of HYACINTHOIDES HISPANICA, the SPANISH BLUEBELL|
When I was little, I used to love finding white bluebells.
Bit of an oxymoron, but you know what I mean!
Now they're considered relatively rare. The native kind, at least, though in my childhood in South Yorkshire in the Sixties, I remember them as a treasure we would come across in some shady spot under the trees every year.
|MILK MAIDS - WHITE BLUEBELLS IN WICKERSLEY WOOD|
"Milk Maids," we called them in our family. A name passed down to me from my maternal grandfather who loved to ramble through the hilly landscape on the edges of the Peak District from his home in Norton Lees in Sheffield. For this quiet man, as for me, the realm of nature was a magical escape from the mundane, full of secret delights and familiar faces.
Milk Maids. The name made me think of nursery rhymes, bucolic bliss, young lasses carrying yokes across their shoulders, milk churns bumping at their hips as they went skipping through meadows knee deep in spring lambs gambolling and vaulting to celebrate a sunshiny May Day just like today.
Milky Maidens! My imagination melted them into the backdrop of countryside joy I discovered every time I stepped out from my back door in the Dearne Valley.
The invasive Spanish bluebell (Hyacinthoides hispanica), often cultivated in gardens, commonly has white individuals dancing among the throngs of cerulean and lapis lazuli bells. Our UK native bluebells (Hyacinthoides non-scripta) on the other hand, admit fewer of these albino beauties to their flock.
I may know more facts about bluebells now than I did back in the day as a little girl just beginning to meet the wonders of the world.
But nothing can replace that early exhilaration of meeting the Milk Maids in the shadowy vales of home.
I feel especially blessed this year. I have a bevy of Milk Maids growing under my Cherry Tree.
Yes, they're Spanish, not native.
They are exotic Iberian Milk Maids who whisper in continental tongues.
But they make my heart smile anyway.
|BELLS BOTH WHITE AND BLUE, WICKERSLEY WOOD, SOUTH YORKSHIRE|