Country mouse entertains some visitors

We took our Australian nephews around Windsor Castle, but I have a sneaking suspicion that they enjoyed a walk with the terriers around our village rather more. Our countryside, full of wild roses and chubby ears of wheat, is very different from their home in Melbourne.

We picked mushrooms brought on by the rain, stuck sticky willy onto each other’s backs and sucked the sweetness from the honeysuckle flowers, but it was the amazing burdock plant that captured their imagination.

With its large leaves and upright stance, burdock was a great favourite of the artists George Stubbs and Claude Lorrain, who used it in the foreground of many of their paintings, but what got the twins enthralled was when I told them that its seeds led to the invention of Velcro. That was cool. When I added that the plant can be eaten, made into drinks and the leaves used to wrap butter or, more impressively, as an alfresco loo paper, they were goggle-eyed.

I found myself becoming increasingly proud of the plant as they rushed hither and thither pointing out new specimens. They may not remember The Queen’s Rubens, but dear old burdock certainly made its mark.

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