Hedge Woundwort (Stachys sylvatica)
This magnificent chap hitched a ride, as a seed, in a tub of bluebells kindly given to me by friends Martin and Katy, from their garden in Oxford. A few weeks after the last bluebells had shrivelled to straw, I saw some nettle-like, hairy leaves and a handsome weed growing taller and taller. Finally its bottle-brush tip of purple flowers, with a pink and white whorl on the lower petal emerged. Two bright yellow stamens stand up like matchsticks. Apparently it is called Woundwort because it has antiseptic properties and was used to make poultices to treat cuts and other wounds. Although fairly common on roadside verges, I’ve never seen this plant around here in London. On Sunday, at a barbecue at Katy and Martin’s, I was able to meet the plant’s cousins and see exactly where it had come from, hiding in the soil around the bluebells. A double gift.