Country diary 1918: cold winds fail to check spring flowers | Environment

The golden kingcups light up the stagnant ditch which through the winter has been filmed with a yellowish scum. Their roots are deep in the ancient leaf-mould and decomposing twigs and branches, a rich, black ooze; this forcing-bed has sent up a thick cushion of leaves stretching from bank to bank, and now that the handsome flowers are out the ditch is transformed. On the steep bank below the now green
hedge the silver stitchwort is out; beside it is a bed of the trefoil leaves of the wood-sorrel, so acceptable in a salad, pleasantly acid; and amongst them the delicate lilac-veined flowers.

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The moschatel, or town hall clock. Photograph: Colin Varndell/Alamy

Close at hand rise a group of single upright stalks, each topped by a small green knob, the inconspicuous flowers of the moschatel or adoxa. This knob is a head of five flowers; four look towards the main points of the compass, one upwards towards the sun. “Town-hall clock” is the name it goes by in the country here, but it is a clock-tower modernised, with one face for the benefit of passing aircraft. Shall we get to this in time? Sweet violets shyly peep amidst the thickening grasses, and the darker dog violet, always a little later than its scented relative, is fast opening its buds. The cold winds of the last few days have failed to check the spring flowers.

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Manchester Guardian, 2 April 1918.