Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Flowers of the faeries - Kingcups, golden riches in darkest mud ..

    Dearly loved by Faere Folk (particularly those with wellington boots) and Water Sprites, golden Kingcups (Caltha palustris) herald the early spring and are much in evidence at the Spring Equinox, Ostara, March 21st.   Herbalist Culpeper desribes the flowers as 'Glittering like gold'. 

    They should still be in full bloom on May Day and were used in its festivals.  'Caltha' is derived from the Greek word for goblet or cup - calathos, and 'palustris' from the Latin palus, meaning marsh.

A Milicent Sowerby postcard of 1920, pub. by Humphrey Milford 

The rhyme reads:
'By the river's brink there is dew to drink,
When the morning skies are sunny.
Cups of gold that a King might hold, 
And each of them filled with honey.'

Photos taken this week at Sissinghurst Castle Gardens and the Charing Alder Beds. 

     Kingcups  belong to the buttercup family, along with celandines. They open their petals to the sunrise, but keep their roots in the boggy soil of marshes and the edges of streams and ponds. They are usually in pristine condition as all parts of the plant are mildy poisonous and unattractive to slugs - although as you see from the Milicent Sowerby postcard above, Magics will  occasionally drink from them!

'K is for Kingcup' by Cecily Mary Barker from 'A Flower Fairy Alphabet' 1st pub. 1928

     Kingcups are commonly known as Marsh Marigolds, and enjoy regional folk-names like Mary Buds, Water Bubbles, Bootes and Mary, Molly or Polly Blobs. From the beginnings of the 'Langauge of Flowers' they have been the symbol for being 'Desirous of Great Riches'.

      Naturally, the flower is often depicted in fairy-tales that feature frogs - and there are many - remember that kiss? They are definitely the plant of choice outside the dwelling of any discriminating toad. 

Illustration by Katherine Wigglesworth from 'Toad's Castle' by Alison Uttley 1951

Kingcup in full sun at Charing Alder beds, and part of the 'Kingcup' Wedgewood dinner service. 

You might like to see more about this lovely Springtime.
There's a new posting with pictures of Sissinghurst Castle Gardens in Kent
here on Muddypond's main website

No comments: