The oak is called ‘the King of the forest’; the Celts honoured it for its endurance and noble presence and considered it a ‘cosmic storehouse of wisdom’. ‘Heart of Oak’ is the official march of the Royal Navy; May 29th used to be celebrated in England as Oak Apple Day. Hard and dense, the oak endures. Cow parsley – it means an inferior version of real parsley – fills the woods and verges with frothy umbrels redolent of late spring. Alternative vernacular names, Queen Anne’s lace, Lady’s lace, Fairy lace, Spanish lace, evoke its fragile appearance. But it’s a deceptive fragility: it thrives thuggishly in good soils at the expense of other, more delicate wild flowers. Seeding down, it too endures.
Photo: Rampton Woods, Cambs, May 2018