Caught by the River

The Wild Flower Calendar

Mathew Clayton | 20th June 2014


June: Horse Chestnut

Illustration: Greg Stevenson
Words: Mathew Clayton

The horse chestnut tree has the most extraordinary flowers that we often don’t appreciate because they grow above eye level. Frilly with dots of yellow and red they remind me of decorative pieces of ceramic that graced sideboards and mantlepieces in the 1970s. If they were an ice cream they would be a Viennetta – one that has been liberally dashed with those bright fruity syrups that were such a treat when I was a child. Even their shape – upright cones – reminds of the fashions of forty years ago when clusters of candelabra lights (each with a pornographic fake drip of wax running down the side) were popular.

It has been claimed that the yellow dots turn red once the flower has been pollinated but I am not sure this is true. Certainly flowers can change colour during their life cycle. Walking up from the bus stop this afternoon I noticed a patch of brambles whose flowers were pink rather than white, and on the South Downs last week there was a hawthorn with surprisingly red flowers. Anyway, enough of me rambling on about flower colour. My message for this month is look up, not down. The sun is shining and summer is all around us.

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Mathew will be a guest of ours at this year’s Port Eliot