Residents returning to the village via the A2 southbound junction, (from Wincheap on the A2, or from town along the Dover Road) may notice the beautiful blue flowers on tall stems growing at the side of the A2. This is Chicory, now considered naturalised, but actually a relic of the days when it was extensively cultivated.
Chicory is still farmed today for human and livestock consumption; the leaves for salads, the roots for livestock feed, food starches and additives. The ground roots of Chicory also have a centuries’ old history of use as a coffee substitute when times were hard, such as in the American Civil War, World Wars I and II, or when coffee was over-taxed or banned as was the case when Frederick the Great refused to allow coffee into Prussia.
The German word for the Chicory flower is ‘Blauwarte’, which means ‘The Blue Lookout at the Wayside’ and its beauty is believed to have inspired the esoteric but hugely influencial German Romantic movement of the ‘Blue Flower’ created by the writer Novalis in the 18th century. For him the blue flower (Blaue Blume) represented the yearning for artistic and spiritual fulfilment, hope and the beauty of things, and today one can find references to this symbolism in artistic endeavours from across the world. In Germany the blue flower symbol has acquired enormous cultural significance in representing the dream of a better future.
Such history in a pretty flower seen at the side of the road.