7th April

Welcome to the Eightfold Year. Every day a different painting will appear, along with moon phases, saints days, seasonal plants and other festive celebrations.

You can find out more about the concept of the Eightfold Year here.

We hope you enjoy this website. We will be adding content as we go through the year and welcoming your feedback and suggestions.

Onwards and Upwards!


Fritillary on balcony, Liverpool, Spring 2008: Maria Hughes

Moon Phases, April 2015
Full Moon – April 4, 13:07
Third Quarter – April 12, 04:46
New Moon – April 18, 19:58
First Quarter – April 26, 12:56




The Portal into The Temple, Liverpool, Spring 2011: Saul Hughes

Saint's Day:
Aibert of Crespin
Blessed Notker
John Baptist de La Salle

World Health Day (International)

Flowering Now by Saul Hughes: Alexanders
Smyrnium Olisatrum.
Family: Umbelliferae. Apiaceae.
Gaelic Name: Lus Na Gran Dubh.


Also known as Black Lovage, Wild Celery, Horse Parsley, Macedonia Parsley, Ailsanders, petroselinium Alexandrium and Black Pot Herb.
A common plant especially within coastal regions and very similar to the wild Angelica (Angelica Sylvestris) and with which it is often confused. This beautiful herb can grow to sizes of 3 to 4 foot and its delightful profuse little flowers are a food source for many, ladybugs, wasps, flies and bees that feed on nectar.
The name Alexanders is derived from Alexandria, the ancient town of the Pharaohs and later in 331 BC extended into the capital city of Egypt by Alexander the Great (356-323 BC) and was so named on account of the plant being found there in large numbers.
The name of the Genus Smyrnium is from the Greek meaning ‘with an aroma like the Myrrh’ and is first mentioned as such by Theophrastus (371-287 BC) the student and successor of Aristotle in the Peripatetic school, where in his Enquiry into Plants, book 9.3-4 says: ‘Now the juice of Alexanders is like the Myrrh’. The name of the genus Olisatrum comes from the Latin ‘Olus’ (A pot herb) and ‘Atrum’ (Black).
The name of the family order it belongs to Umbelliferae (Carrot family) is derived the Latin ‘Umbella’ meaning parasol or umbrella on account of the many little flowers of this order being arranged into umbrella shaped heads a characteristic of the of all plants in the carrot family. It is also grouped into the family order of Apiaceae (Celery Family) a family group of aromatic hollowed stemmed plants. The name Apiaceae is derived from the Latin ‘Apis’ meaning bee, as the plants of this order attract many bees to their beautiful florets. Either family name of Umbelliferae or Apiaceae can be used and are both valid under the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature (ICBN) which was started on May the first, 1753, with the publication of the Species Plantarum by Carl Linnaeus (1707-1778).


The plant was formerly known as petroselinium (Petro ‘Rock’) (Selinium ‘Celery’) Alexandrium (From Alexandria); This former name gave rise to folk name of ‘Wild Celery’ and petroselinium also is the origin of the plant name parsley (petroselinium Crispum), the other folk names of ‘Ailsanders’ is derived from Alexandria were it was found, ‘Macedonia Parsley’ is derived from the birth place of Alexander the Great who gave his name to the capital city in ancient Egypt. The name Black Lovage comes from the black seeds of this plant and its resemblance to the Lovage (Levisticum Officinale), it was known as ‘horse parsley’ to Pliny the Elder (23 AD – 79 AD) who calls it as thus in his Natural History, because of the fondness as a food plant for horses and its resemblance to the parsley (Petroselinium Crispum)
Medicinally the whole plant is Diuretic (Elevates Urination), Bitter (causes a response in the central nervous system that initiates a cascade of other beneficial actions within the body) and Digestive (Aids the Digestion Process); it was used for the treatment of menstrual problems, wounds, to aid digestion, treating asthma and to prevent consumption. The great herbalist Nicholas Culpeper (1616 – 1654) states in his ‘Complete Herbal’ published in 1653, that it is good for ‘opening the stoppings of the liver and wonderfully helps the spleen, it’s good to remove women’s courses, to expel the after birth, to break wind and to provoke urine and that it warms a cold stomach and is effectual against the biting of serpents’.
Like many ancient plants that were introduced into these Isles, it is often said that this was done by the Romans, but it is more likely that this introduction was done by the ancient Celts, who were well travelled and whose priestly cast of the Druids were well versed in the uses of plants.
The flower buds were ate in salads and the roots used very much like parsnips, the leaves were used as herbs and along with the young shoots were eaten raw in salads or cooked into soups and a white sauce, the stems being used like asparagus, tasting like celery but somewhat more pungent and the spicy seeds were used as a pepper substitute. Charlemagne (742 AD-814 AD) King of the Franks and Emperor of the Romans (Imperator Romanorum) commended it to be sown in his farms, for its uses as a food source and for its medicinal qualities.
Magically it is under the dominion of the planet Jupiter and was much used as an aphrodisiac and in love potions and philtres, hence its other name of ‘Lovage’.


Alexanders is much loved by natures little creatures, being visited by many types of flies, wasps, beetles, butterflies and bees, so much so that it was often used as a ‘Companion Plant’, companion plants being those that were planted in close proximity to agricultural crops because of the theory that it assists them by diverting the attention of insect pests which will favour this plant more as a food source.
The plant as well as being a source of food for the above is also leaf mined by the Celery Leaf Miner (Diptera tephritidae) is grazed by the adult and larva of the Celery Leaf Beetle (Coleoptera Chrysomelidae) and the root is a food source for the Weevil (Coleoptera Curxulionidae) and is prone to the attacks of the Rust Fungus (Uredinales Pucciniaceae) and the Umbellifer Downy Mildew (peronosporales Peronosporaceae)
Seeds of the Alexanders were found during excavation of the medieval monastic hospital at Soutra Aisle just within the Scottish Borders, a hospital and a friary founded by Malcolm IV of Scotland known as Malcolm the Maiden.*

Also on this day:

1724 – Premiere performance of Johann Sebastian Bach's St. John Passion BWV 245 at St. Nicholas Church, Leipzig.

1906 – Mount Vesuvius erupts and devastates Naples.

1927 – First distance public television broadcast (from Washington, D.C. to New York City, displaying the image of Commerce Secretary Herbert Hoover - wild excitement ensues).

1969 – The Internet's symbolic birth date: publication of RFC 1.

1978 – Development of the neutron bomb is cancelled by President Jimmy Carter.

1999 – The World Trade Organization rules in favor of the United States in its long-running trade dispute with the European Union over bananas.

* All information regarding the uses of the plants is exactly for that informational purposes only, and that the author and owners of the web do not encourage anyone to be eating, or disturbing wild plants, but merely to admire them in their natural environment and to ponder on their rise and fall within human culture.