Hawthorn Flowers: Cast Ne’er a Clout Ere May is Out

Hawthorn in flower

For anyone who needs a translation of ‘cast ne’er a clout ere May is out’, I’m offering, ‘don’t stop wearing warm layers of clothing before the hawthorn has bloomed’.

Hawthorn tree covered with blossom

Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna, a UK native) is one of the first deciduous trees to leaf in spring. Its small, leathery leaves are lobed, rather like tiny oak leaves. Continue reading “Hawthorn Flowers: Cast Ne’er a Clout Ere May is Out”

April Brights: Male Catkins

Male pussy willow: catkin with yellow pollen
Male trees produce yellow pollen

When I happened upon Salix branches strung with yellow catkins, they made me think that bright is relative: on a dull late afternoon, they seemed like tiny candles.

I believe these are either Goat willow (Salix caprea) or Grey willow (Salix cinerea). It’s not easy to tell them apart at this stage while the stems are bare of leaves. Goat willows have broad, round leaves with bent, pointed tips; Grey willows have oval leaves with blunt ends. Continue reading “April Brights: Male Catkins”

Trust The Great Beech For a Bold, Bright Winter Garden

Autumn beech leaves
Beech leaves dry to a striking bronzy-brown

In Phantastes by George MacDonald, a country maiden warns the hero, Anodos, to shun the Ash and the Alder, but says he can ‘trust the Oak, and the Elm, and the great Beech.’ Sure enough, Anodos meets a Beech tree with a voice ‘like a solution of all musical sounds’ who longs to be a woman. She invites him to cut lengths from her hair, and uses them to create a protective girdle of beech leaves for his magical journey. Continue reading “Trust The Great Beech For a Bold, Bright Winter Garden”