WHEN I was a little girl, I remember bringing in a bunch of marigolds
from the garden. My father said, 'Well, dear, you have brought something
to my memory. When I was a little boy I remember my mother saying 'Son,
go out in the garden and bring in a few marigolds, to go on the top of
the broth'. Now the old folks had a very particular reason for doing
this. Very often the broth was made with a piece of fat meat, and the
'eyes' of fat floated on the top the marigolds being bitter in taste,
the petals were plucked off and sprinkled on the top of the basin, so
that the fat shouldn't upset the digestion.'
let us come into the garden.
Here is a Bay-tree. In olden days there
wasn't a garden without one, because where a bay grew, the house never
caught fire. Most of the houses were thatched then, but the bay-leaf
tree kept them safe and sound.
Here is the little rosemary bush-rosemary for remembrance. Didn't the
Holy Mother spread out the little washed garments of the Baby Jesus to
dry on a rosemary?- and our Grandmothers did the same, the baby-clothes
and all fine bits of linen and lace were always dried on it.
Growing on the hedge there, are gilly-flowers and musk, and here right
in the centre of the hedge is a scow, or as now we learn to call it an
elder-tree. In most of the gardens anywhere in the country you will see
the elder growing; go into the backgardens in the town, too, and if
there is an old wall, you are likely to see one rooted in it. No-one In
old days would be without a scow no evil spirits would come where it
grew and only good piskies visited the garden, and if on a Midsummer Eve
you climbed up into its branches you would see the King of the Fairies
In my garden of an evening I sometimes watch little knots of tiny flies
buzzing about, and they always seem to be very happy. I asked an old
friend of mine what they were and she said, "They are the piskies, dear.
Don't touch them or go through them you don't know how they will take
it! Then I asked someone else who said, 'They are the spirits of the
departed.' Anyhow, they seem to enjoy themselves.
Traditions and folklore make us dream or perhaps we are carried off in
thought by the piskies-I wonder!
Not flowers alone were planted in the garden, but seeds of love were
sown there too. When our grandparents were young it was a custom in the
evening for sweethearts to walk round the different flower-beds, and the
flowers with theirnames would help them to express their love one for
another. There was Love-in-the-Mist and Love Entangle, Maid Love and
Boy's Love, also Look-up-and-kiss-me and Forget-me-not, sometimes alas
with Love-lies bleeding.
Here is a little rhyme we used to say to
Boy's Love: "Boy's Love, girl's delight, To kiss by day and hug by
First published in Old Cornwall Vol 4 1939