Garden Notes : Midsummer

June is a wonderful time in the Essence + Alchemy garden. Wild roses with dainty leaves, simple beauty and scented flowers, astrantia majors with starlike structures and magical foxgloves steeped in mystery are all starting to appear in abundance to welcome in the Summer.


Wild rose

Dog rose (Rosa canina) is the familiar and most common wild rose. There are a few explanations as to how the dog rose gained its common name, one being that it is connected to the ancient belief that the root of the rose could cure the bite of a mad dog. Another that the name has been altered over time from ‘dag rose’ – ‘dag’ referring to the dagger-like thorns.

Folklore: In the past it was believed that fairies, by eating a rose hip and then turning anti-clockwise three times, could make themselves disappear. To become visible once more the fairies had to eat another rose hip and turn clockwise three times.

Astrantia Major.jpg

Great Masterwort

Astrantia major, (Great Masterwort, or ‘Hattie’s Pincushion’ as it was called in the past), is a member of the Apiaceae family (parsley and carrot family).



A characteristic plant of early summer, the foxglove grows tall among the nettles. The origin of the name Foxglove is unclear, but the original name may have been ‘folksglove’, referring to faerie folk. Another theory suggests that the name comes from the Anglo-Saxon word ‘foxes-gleow’, a ‘gleow’ being a ring of bells. This is connected to Norse legends in which foxes wear the bell-shaped foxglove blossoms around their necks; the ringing of bells was a spell of protection against hunters and hounds.

The Latin name Digitalis purpurea comes from the word digitanus, meaning finger, for the thimble shaped flowers that look like you could fit your finger right inside.

I know a bank where the wild thyme blows,
Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,
Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine,
With sweet musk-roses and with eglantine.
— William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night's Dream
Lesley A Bramwell