Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Parish Life - April 2015

he date for our monthly practical and social session is Saturday April 18th 09.30-12.00. Everyone welcome to pop in for a while and help out a little if you wish. The countryside is under tremendous pressure for a multitude of uses. Genuine wild places have almost disappeared altogether, this makes Churchyards and Cemeteries a really important refuge for wild life. They have remained unchanged for centuries with no application of herbicide or ploughing. Their flora mirrors what was found on a general basis in the surrounding fields. At St. Giles our aim is to nurture this biodiversity and encourage its proliferation. As we are starting our 17th year, the best way of checking on our progress is to visit our blog site efficiently updated by Tim.

Just imagine you have no calendar. Well, one way of telling the time of the year is by the succession of white umbellifer flowers growing along the roadside. Firstly, from April to June you have Cow Parsley, the Angel Lace, much favoured and enjoyed by flower arrangers. Then following on the more robust Hogweed flowers from June onwards, and in July less frequently now, there is Fool’s Parsley conspicuous by the long bracts hanging underneath the flowers. Very similar to Parsley to the casual observer. However, the plant contains the alkaloid poison coniine. It can be lethal if enough is eaten, so fools beware.

An interesting white umbellifer that grows at St. Giles is the Burnet-Saxifrage. An unusual name – Saxifrage means stone breaker. The Meadow Saxifrage growing amongst stones, to come observers appeared to have broken the stones to emerge. The stones allied to the Burnet Saxifrage at kidney and gallstones. Early apothecaries thought a potion made from the plant would do the trick. This uncommon umbellifer is worth looking out for.

One of the joys in April is seeing the Primrose in flower again. Easter Rose is another name for the Primrose. The pale flower reflects the first sunshine of the new season. The resurrection of Jesus was discovered at first light. These common flowers are full of glory and remind us that everything matters because of Easter. If our mind and eyes perceive the intensity of God in everything about us. We experience life in a new intensity and see things in a new light.

We look forward to seeing you on Saturday April 18th.


On Saturday May 9th, Sue Robinson and her team will be hosting this event at Holy Cross, Sherston. At St. Giles we will be supporting Sue beforehand and on the day. Anyone who has an interest in natural history will find the day fascinating.

There will be specialist speakers and a Churchyard tour. Everybody welcome.


I will be leading a guided walk for the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust on Sunday 26th April starting from Biddestone Church at 1.30 p.m. The walk will be through the Weaver Valley and to Colerne Park woodland. There is plenty of interest and a mixture of habitats. Some unusual and uncommon woodland flora to see including the parasitic Toothwort. We should see Dipper and visiting Warblers. You are welcome to join us and enjoy our spectacular countryside and its natural history. For more information email

Contributed by Ivan Randall, Co-ordinator

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