The last two weeks has seen the appearance of our hedgerow flowers, several of them already mentioned in other blogs. It may just be my own perception of this but there seem to be more of them appearing in new places following the hedge cutting.
An English hedgerow would not be complete without the snowy white scented May blossom of the Hawthorn. The blossom attracts many insects and the tree itself provides a habitat for many animals; nesting birds, spiders and other invertebrates on the leaves and in its furrowed bark.
The young leaves have a slightly nutty taste. When I was a child we knew them has ‘bread and cheese’. No idea why!
Hawthorn trees can live for many years, some are hundreds of years old. So it is no surprise that the ancient hawthorn features in centuries of myth and legend.
Fairies are said to live in and around them. Anyone falling asleep under the hawthorn tree could find themselves carried away by the fairy people.
Have you ever wondered why one sometimes sees one or two isolated gnarled and windswept hawthorn trees in a field or on a hillside? These ‘lone trees’ are the fairy trees. Cut one down at your peril!
Britain’s most famous hawthorn is the Holy Thorn of Glastonbury. Legend tells of how Joseph of Arimathea arrived at a hill overlooking Glastonbury Tor with a few disciples and two sacred vessels containing the blood and sweat of Jesus. Where he thrust his staff into the ground it sprouted and grew into a thorn tree. Though the original is obviously not there any more, one of its supposed descendants does still stand on the hill.
May blossom featured in early May festivals. Before the calendar changes of the C18 it would have been in flower earlier in the month.
In the marshy area near the middle entrance to the Orchard is a wonderful display of yellow marsh marigolds. Quite an abundance following the cutting back of the dogwood earlier this year.
Help with identification
Don’t forget, the Association has a selection of ID charts (birds, insects, trees etc) which you are welcome to borrow.