August brings us heady scents, glorious colours, and an abundance of fruits and vegetables.
August is the eighth month of the year in the Julian and Gregorian Calendars and one of seven months with a length of 31 days. Once known as ‘Sextilis’, as it was the sixth month of the Roman year. The month was then given the name of ‘Augustus’ later changed to ‘August’ and is said to derive from honouring the Roman Emperor ‘Augustus Caesar’. The Anglo-Saxons called August Weod monath, which means 'Weed month' in this month weeds and other crops grew the fastest. The old Dutch name for August was Oostmaand which means 'Harvest-month.'
The August moon is called the Grain Moon, Green Corn Moon, Barley Moon, or Fruit Moon.
The beginning of August is Lammas, or Lughnasadh as it is more traditionally known throughout the Celtic world. Lammas is the first of three Harvest Festivals. This is the grain harvest where all the wheat, corn, and other grains are harvested. Traditionally, it was celebrated by the making of corn dollies, candle-lit procesions or bonfires on hilltops and the baking of loaves of bread. The Saxons renamed the festival “hlaf-maesse” meaning “loaf mass,” which later became Lammas, as we know it today. Traditionally it was the day when the first new grain was milled and baked into small loaves of bread, which were offered on the altar as thanks giving for the first fruits of the harvest.
The poppy and gladiolus are the flowers for the month of August. The poppy being
the English flower for August. There are hundreds of different types of poppy, they come in all shapes, sizes,
colours and form. They can be a subtle mix of pastel shades, or be as bright as a perfect summers day. Poppies with large red flowers with blackish centres are unmistakeable cornfield annuals. This Common poppy ( Papaver rhoeas) was introduced into Britain along with agricultural crops at least as far back as the Late Bronze Age. The corn poppy is native to the Mediterranean areas of Europe, and does not contain opium like the Oriental poppies. (Papaver somniferum is the one opium is derived from.)The corn poppy is wide spread and abundant in arable fields and by roadsides. The red corn poppy has become a symbol of Remembrance Day. This custom began after WWI when thousands of poppies bloomed on the battlefields of Flanders. In folklore, poppies symbolise sleep as well as death, and peering into the black centre of a red poppy is a folk remedy for insomnia. Poppy seeds are edible, they are extensively used in European and Middle Eastern cookery, seeds are sprinkled on bread, rolls, cakes and biscuits. They also go quite well with honey as a dressing for fruit.
"The brilliant poppy flaunts her head
Amidst the ripening grain,
And adds her voice to sell the song
That August's here again."
~ Helen Winslow ~
The Gladiolus is the flower for August in some countries.
The Gladiolus genus gets its name from the Latin for ‘small sword’ and is sometimes referred to as the sword lily. Other known names are Glads and Corn flag. Gladiolus are easy to grow and come in a wide varity of colours, they are magnificent flowers which add struture and elegance to any border.