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At Grangemoor Park on Friday, I spotted my first flowering Ragged robin for the year.

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This gorgeous wildflower was formerly known as Lychnis flos-cuculi, but is now Silene flos-cuculi – from a scientific article I browsed, this seems a complicated story of almost constant reclassification of the species! You will still see both names used in books and on line, which is why I’ve mentioned both here.

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According to a couple of books I discovered on the ‘language of flowers’, Ragged robin’s symbolic meaning is ‘wit’, and it is dedicated to Saint Barnabas. The ever-informative First Nature website says:

Lychnis, the genus name, comes from the Greek noun lychnos, meaning lamp; it refers to the use of a plant in this genus as the wick of an oil lamp. The specific epithet flos-cuculi means ‘flower of the cuckoo’ and was probably chosen because the first flowers of Ragged Robin appear just as the first cuckoos are being heard (in Britain and Ireland at least) in May.

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A special moment: to try to stop it swaying in the breeze so I could get a sharp photo, I was holding one of the blooms when a bee-fly decided to zoom in for a feed of nectar. That super long proboscis comes in handy for long narrow flowers like these.

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