With the equinox behind us, summer is coming to an end and for the first time last night I could have done with a blanket in the early hours. Daytime temperatures are in the high 20s but the pool water is so cold that a deep breath for courage is needed before a swim. In the plant world, the herald of autumn is the Urginea maritima or sea squill; a strange flower that seems to appear overnight from dry earth and is an unearthly pale pink. It would look more at home on a Star Trek or Doctor Who set.
The flower is the final stage in its annual appearance and only shoots up long after the leaves have died back and disappeared. I found one of the bulbs earlier in the year and it weighed in at nearly two kilos which explains how this plant flowers when the earth is at its driest and how it can continue to produce leaves and flowers when not even planted. This latter quality made the bulb a fertility and good luck symbol which is still sometimes hung outside Greek houses at New Year, although I've not seen this in Turkey. Since ancient times, the medicinal qualities of the bulb have been appreciated, especially in the treatment of heart disease, coughs and chapped feet. Virgil gives it as an ingredient of sheep wash. In large quantities it is poisonous which keeps it safe from the wild boar which dig up most roots and bulbs around our house.
From a distance this pale lanky bloom isn't very interesting, but close up the tiny flowers are very pretty and a magnet for honey bees in search of pollen. If you are out and about, look around the edges of fields for them as the bulbs were often used to mark land boundaries.