Guest Blog No. 2 – Hat Guardians


These words and picture are brought to you by the lovely Mary who lives in southern France. Mary is Dutch by birth and her husband Ant is an Englishman.  They are blessed with cosmopolitan souls and kind hearts.  And they are the official guardians of my straw hat.  I bought the hat in question in a Portuguese market over 30 years ago.  Shortly afterwards we parted company and I have not seen it since. At the time of the adoption Ant and Mary were in the process of renovating a house in a small hamlet in the Cévennes region of France, an area famous for silk and chestnuts. Their son Mike (my boyfriend at the time) and myself stayed in this still basic but beautiful house for a few glorious weeks at the end of our European adventures.  It was extremely awkward to carry, so when we headed home I left my trusty hat in their safe keeping.  Quite reasonably I assumed that when we returned to the UK the need for sun protection would minimal. Shortly after our return the great romance ended and we went our separate ways. Through the years I have kept in touch with A&M, but I still haven’t back been to retrieve my hat. Last year they sent me a photo to prove the hat was still alive, wide brimmed and a little lonely perhaps.  To be honest I wouldn’t have known if it was an interloper, but it certainly looked very healthy.  I think it is happy just where it is.   Over to you Mary ……

I adore Queen Anne’s lace or Fairy lace or Spanish Lace.  The name alone evokes delicate extravagance.

Long before it’s popularity at Chelsea, I was nurturing it as an exotic garden plant not realising that to anyone who knows about gardening it is an annoyingly successful weed. Only annoying when you want to grow other things, because a path in spring sunshine, bordered by this lovely airy plant is a delight and an experience to lock into one’s memory, as it is brief and it will be a full year before you will enjoy it again.  By that time the plants will be bigger and better… and will have thrown around all that seed and unless you root out young seedlings in the places where you might want to experience other horticultural extravagances your gardening will become monotonous……..or so I have been told as I still adore it.

Perhaps if I call it Cow Parsley or Badman’s Oatmeal or Rabbit Meat I would feel differently.

13 thoughts on “Guest Blog No. 2 – Hat Guardians

  1. I’ve always liked Queen Anne’s lace, too; though I don’t have any in my garden. Bob Dylan wrote a song called “You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go”. (Sort of like that hat.) It has a line in it, “Purple clover, Queen Anne’s Lace”. I think that’s what first made me aware of this lovely plant/weed.


  2. I love it when Cow Parsley spreads its froth along the lanes. It is not so welcome in the garden as it seeds everywhere and its long tap roots are difficult to dig up in one piece. Queen Anne’ s Lace is a lovely name. In Yorkshire where I grew up, it was called ‘ Mother – Die’ and people were superstitious about picking it.


  3. I too like Queen Anne’s Lace in the lanes and hedgerows although I prefer the dark leaved ‘Ravenswing’ in the garden.


      1. It is easily grown from seed which perhaps answers both questions. If caught when young they pull up nicely or if dug up can be transplanted. Well worth having.


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