Butcher’s Broom and Privet

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British Wildlife

Walking up the narrow lanes from Horton Kirby takes me past dark ivy-clad hedgerows topped by trails of clematis. These hedges house ancient woodland species such as holly, privet and spindle together with a spiky, evergreen shrub which once seen is not readily forgot – Butcher’s Broom.  It was, apparently, used to sweep the blood and guts off butchers’ floors.   Its alliterative name, distinctive form, historical hygiene role and medicinal value for thinning our blood gives this species a high botanical standing.  How does that compare to the dull sounding Privet, another plant of the local hedgerows but one easily overlooked with plain oval leaves, diminutive white flowers and black berries?  Its ordinariness and its ability to grow thick and fast has made it excel as a garden hedge; a monotone backdrop for colourful others.  Now of course I have to find Solomon’s Seal, a plant of deeply shaded chalk woodland and, like Butcher’s Broom, much prized in many gardens; and with such a name, it must do something spectacular?

chalk hedge 036

Narrow lane running through the chalk

ltt on spindle 031

Long-tailed tit on Spindle

privet 041

Wild Privet

Butcher's Broom 033

Butcher’s Broom

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