Circles and Wildflowers

I’m really enjoying writing poems for ‘Frames of Reference’, part of the public art programme for King’s Gate, Amesbury, commissioned by Ginkgo Projects and funded by Bloor Homes.

I’m one of six Wiltshire-based artists who’ve been given a Local Artist Bursary for this project.  You can read about some of the other artists and see examples of their work on the Ginkgo Projects’ site.  The brief for this project is to create new work in response to the landscape and heritage of the area in and near Amesbury, so I’ve been working on some Wiltshire poems for the last couple of months, in between my other work.

For some poems, I’ve been thinking about my own life in Wiltshire and the ways I interact with the landscape and history here.  For others, I’ve taken a different approach.  For instance in my poem Circles and Wildflowers, which you can read below,  my starting point was the word ‘circle’ and some of its synonyms, combined with the names of wildflowers native to Wiltshire – names so gorgeous they are poems in themselves.  Circles are an important feature of the landscape here with, to give some examples, the World Heritage sites of Stonehenge, Woodhenge and Avebury Stone Circle nearby, not to mention crop circles which mysteriously appear.

Circles are present in nature,  in the shapes of fruits and vegetables, and in the sun and the moon, so I guess this is how early people came to understand the concept.

Avebury Stone Circle

Circles have been part of this landscape for thousands of years, as have the many wildflowers growing in abundance here.  So, for Circles and Wildflowers, the focus of the poem is the nature and shape of the landscape itself, rather than the temporary human writing the poem.

Scroll down to read the poem at the end of this post.

wildflowers at Figsbury Ring, Wiltshire
Wiltshire wildflowers

Circles and Wildflowers

circle of bluebells
circus of columbine

halo of daisies
hoop of ransoms

arena of musk mallow
loop of teasels

orbit of cowslips
spiral of cuckoo flowers

ring of cow parsley
band of thrift

wreath of dog rose briars
revolution of field scabious

clock of common yarrow
sphere of ragged robin

circle and circus and loop and spiral
of field poppies, meadow cranes, corncrackle, cornflowers

sun of buttercups
moon of harebells

7 thoughts on “Circles and Wildflowers”

  1. Beautiful poem. Thank you for sharing it with us. Your words conjure up visions of loveliness. I remember going for a walk around the village where my mother grew up in Wiltshire. She pointed out the wildflowers giving the nicknames they used for them as children (1920s early 30s era). The only names I recall now are Shirtbutton and one called Bread and Butter – because that’s what it tasted like!

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      1. Sounds like ‘Bread and Butter’ is Linaria vulgaris or ‘toadflax’ – this from Wikipedia – “Linaria acutiloba Fisch. ex Rchb. is a synonym.[4] Because this plant grows as a weed, it has acquired a large number of local colloquial names, including brideweed, bridewort, butter and eggs (but see Lotus corniculatus), butter haycocks, bread and butter, bunny haycocks, bunny mouths, calf’s snout, Continental weed, dead men’s bones, devil’s flax, devil’s flower, doggies, dragon bushes, eggs and bacon (but see Lotus corniculatus), eggs and butter, false flax, flaxweed, fluellen (but see Kickxia), gallweed, gallwort, impudent lawyer, Jacob’s ladder (but see Polemonium), lion’s mouth, monkey flower (but see Mimulus), North American ramsted, rabbit flower, rancid, ransted, snapdragon (but see Antirrhinum), wild flax, wild snapdragon, wild tobacco (but see Nicotiana), yellow rod, yellow toadflax.[8]”

        – and ‘Shirt button’ sounds like ‘Greater Stitchwort’ – this from The Wildlife Trust’s website – “Greater Stitchwort grows in woodland and along roadside verges, hedgerows and grassy banks. It has many other common names, including ‘Wedding Cakes’, ‘Star-of-Bethlehem’, ‘Daddy’s-shirt-buttons’ and ‘Snapdragon’ – the latter because its stems are brittle and easily break. Its pretty, star-shaped, white flowers bloom from April to June; as the seed capsules ripen, they can be heard ‘popping’ in late spring.”


  2. Oh Josephine, that’s so wonderful! Thank you SO much for posting that. I am thrilled to bits! Wish I could remember some more. One of my Mum’s favourites was the Bee Orchid but top of her list were Cowslips and Primroses. I remember going “up the Downs” for a walk specifically looking for Spindleberries which we found to her great delight. Thank you again and have a lovely time in Aldeburgh – a few decades since I was last there, but I can still hear the sound of the waves rolling back the shingle!

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