Tuesday, July 12, 2016

An unusual discovery

Looking for a picture of the Zig-zag steps this morning I came upon a couple of shots I took some years back now of Green Alkanet Pentaglottis sempervirons, AKA Bird’s eye, Pheasant eye, Orchanet, Spanish Buglos, and Enchusa. 

     One can easily see the vague semblance of an eye looking at the blossom.

As far as I can recall this was taken with my old Minolta 9,000 film camera although scanned and posted to my JPGs collection from slides.
                               Then I had not got a macro lens.

I had to make do with a dioptre lens screwed onto the front of my standard 50mm lens.It served well at the time but now I must think about getting some more pictures if it showing the leafage and possibly the seeds as well.

Culpeper the herbalist is very enthusiastic about Alkanet. although in the 1650s it is rather 'over the top' by todays standard. One can't imagine spitting chewed Alkanet into a serpents mouth would kill it; and as far as driving out the smallpox is concerned I would want something more certain than that. He also says that it is mainly found in Cornwall and Devonshire. In the years since he was 'herbalising' -to invent a new word - it has spread succesfully and was plentiful when I took these pictures on the Main drive of the Zigzag.

(Government and Virtues)
It is an herb under the dominion of Venus, and indeed one of her darlings, though somewhat hard to come by. It helps old ulcers, hot inflammations, burnings by common fire, and St Anthony’s fire, by antipathy to Mars; for these uses, your best way is to make it into an ointment; also, if you make a vinegar of it, as you make vinegar of roses, it helps the morphew and leprosy; if you apply the herb to the privities, it draws forth the dead child. It helps the yellow jaundice, spleen, and gravel in the kidneys. Dioscorides saith it helps such as are bitten by a venomous beast, whether it be taken inwardly, or applied to the wound; nay, he saith further, if any one that hath newly eaten it, do but spit into the mouth of a serpent, the serpent instantly dies. It stays the flux of the belly, kills worms, helps the fits of the mother. Its decoction made in wine, and drank, strengthens the back, and eases the pains thereof. It helps bruises and falls, and is as gallant a remedy to drive out the small pox and measles as any is; an oint­ment made of it, is excellent for green wounds, pricks or thrusts.

I did find the picture I was looking for too. This is the true Zigzag, not the lane which has taken its place. Just imagine the movers men lugging heavy Victorian furniture up these steps; - "You have a grand piano madam? That will be quite alright the men will take it up to your new house" - which they had to do until in later years part of the back garden of Bellvue House was purchased to allow the lane to be made. 
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