Jonathan's Mistletoe Diary

November 30, 2016

Frosty mistletoe auction

Filed under: Current Affairs,Media,Mistletoe,Orchard,social history — Jonathan Briggs @ 12:34 pm

img_2396redLast Tuesday in November = first mistletoe auction of the season at Tenbury Wells.

A satisfyingly frosty day, with the mistletoe bundles glistening with hoarfrost in the sun.  And excellent stock – green-leaved and fully-berried (compare this time last year when the foliage  seemed  little yellow and the berries a little under-sized).

But what’s this? Not a lot of lots? There seemed to be significantly fewer piles of mistletoe than normal.

Nevertheless, and as usual, once the auction got to the mistletoe (it starts with trees and holly) there were crowds of buyers, hangers-on (incl me) and media people, so a minor shortage didn’t seem to matter. Indeed it seemed to boost prices, with most of the good mistletoe wraps (lots) going for £30 or more, which is double what they were getting last year.

img_2407redDoes that mean mistletoe will be expensive this year, or is it merely a reflection on the limited lots available today?  I suspect the latter – as I was assuming the good condition and well-berried nature of the harvest this year would depress prices, not push them up.

We shall see whether there’s a trend, or not, next week when the second auction takes place. That might be flooded with lots brought in by orchard-owners who’ve heard about Tuesday’s prices. A scenario which would, of course, lower prices…

Media interest yesterday included PA, local BBC TV news and BBC Radio Herefordshire & Worcester (mistletoe was a main theme in their drive-time show yesterday afternoon).

Buyers and sellers included the usual suspects – people, like me, who turn up every year, local sellers but buyers from much further afield – one van was a horse box from Connemara, and another was from Fife – both areas with very little (probably none) mistletoe.

Next auctions at Tenbury will be on 6th and 13th December.  Some more pics of the first auction below:

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More Mistletoe Matters – links to mistletoey things to read, buy or do

Grow-Your-Own Mistletoe – kits and gift cards from the English Mistletoe Shop
A Little Book About Mistletoe – printed and Kindle versions
Mistletoe Matters Consultancy – all about mistletoe in Britain
The Mistletoe Pages – even more about mistletoe
Mistletoe Surveys – seeking your input…
Mistletoe Matters on Facebook
Mistletoe Matters on Twitter

 

 

November 27, 2016

Urban mistletoe – normal or abnormal?

Filed under: Current Affairs,Gardening,Media,Mistletoe,Orchard,social history,Travel — Jonathan Briggs @ 6:59 pm
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The BBC R Glos Mistletoe Hunt – on a maple tree round the back of the Shirehall (Google Streetvew pic)

 

Last week I joined a brief, early morning, urban mistletoe hunt with BBC Radio Gloucestershire. They had spotted mistletoe on trees in central Gloucester and wanted to discuss whether this was unusual.  The short answer to that is, no, not at all unusual here in Gloucestershire where mistletoe is common, but both yes and no elsewhere in the UK.  It all depends on where you are.

[The hunt was broadcast during Mark Cummings’ show on 23rd November. You can hear the whole programme on iPlayer here – but only for a few weeks and anyway the mistletoe is scattered throughout the programme. A bootleg edit, with just the the mistletoe-laden bits, can be heard here]

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BBC R Glos Mistletoe Hunt – trees with mistletoe in Brunswick Square (Google Streetview pic)

 

The first thing to understand about mistletoe in urban locations is that, in theory at least, trees in urban areas are ideal for it. You might think, like the BBC Glos reporters did initially, that mistletoe is a plant of the wider and natural countryside. But, actually, mistletoe’s need is for isolated trees – trees well-spaced away from others.  Natural woods may have a lot of trees, but those trees are close together – so woodland trees are not good mistletoe hosts.  The trees of man-made habitats – orchards, hedgerows, roadsides are much better for mistletoe as they are set apart.  And, therefore, trees in the urban environment – street and garden trees – are ideal for it.  It should not be unusual.

Nevertheless most people seem to think it is unusual in towns – possibly for one or both of two reasons.  One being that mistletoe is generally only found in quantity in the south-west midlands, so is not common enough to spot – in urban or rural environments – across most of the UK.  The other reason is observation – people don’t look up enough! In the wider countryside you can spot mistletoe from miles away – with the distinctive aerial growths showing up in tall trees across the landscape.  In towns the landscape is much closer, hemmed in by buildings, so you don’t get that wide view that will show mistletoe a long way off.  You may only be able to see it when close to it, and then only by physically looking straight up!

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Cheltenham’s street trees have lots of mistletoe – obvious even in summer (Google Streetview pic)

 

Here in the Severn Vale of Gloucestershire mistletoe is common everywhere – rural or urban – and very obvious in both Gloucester and Cheltenham. Especially in Cheltenham, where there are huge amounts in many of the street trees. Probably too much actually – but that’s a story for another time.

Outside of the vale, but still in mistletoe country, there are many other mistletoe towns; one particularly favorite of mine is Malvern, where there are scattered colonies throughout. Much further afield there are thriving colonies in and around Richmond (SW London), Cambridge, parts of Oxford, and even small areas of Edinburgh (and even Dublin!) well outside mistletoe’s natural range.  Urban mistletoe thrives – and urban gardens could even become, as rural orchards decline, the primary habitat for mistletoe in Britain.


growkitmontage1If you want to try getting it growing in your garden try a Mistletoe Grow-Kit from the English Mistletoe Shop

More mistletoey links:

A Little Book About Mistletoe – printed and Kindle versions
Mistletoe Matters Consultancy – all about mistletoe in Britain
The Mistletoe Pages – even more about mistletoe
Mistletoe Surveys – seeking your input…
Mistletoe Matters on Facebook
Mistletoe Matters on Twitter

November 19, 2016

Lots of berries – and they’ll be all white on the night…

Filed under: Current Affairs,Food and Drink,Mistletoe,Orchard,social history — Jonathan Briggs @ 5:47 pm

Nearly mistletoe harvesting time, with the berries ripening nicely. And, on the mistletoe here in the Severn Vale at least, there are lots of berries.  Again (several years running now).

There’s a slide show below showing some pictures I took this week in the Gloucestershire Orchard Trust‘s orchards at Longney, demonstrating the huge number of berries in the (handful of) mistletoe-laden apple trees there.

Most of the berries have whitened up now, though some are still green, and none have yet got that distinctive pearlescent translucency they get when fully ripe. But there’s no need to worry, they’ll be all white soon.

There are also a couple of pics showing the continuing fruit crop there (much has already been processed by local juice-makers, including Days Cottage) and the new plantings. These orchards are being restored as productive traditional orchards – mistletoe is not, obviously, a primary aim, but is a traditional seasonal by-product.

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November 15, 2016

Mistletoe in The Quercy Local

Filed under: Current Affairs,Gardening,Media,Mistle Thrush,Mistletoe,social history,Travel — Jonathan Briggs @ 9:37 pm

The French have a lot more mistletoe than we do here in Britain – their climate is better suited to it, and it is a common sight in many regions (though also, as in Britain, utterly absent from some parts).  That abundance doesn’t lessen its mysteriousness though – there are many French traditions and customs relating to le Gui. It was once (and possibly still is) especially valued as a un Porte-Bonheur, a Good Luck Charm.

But our kissing tradition, traditionally a feature of English-speaking countries, is widespread in France too these days, possibly masking some of their other traditions.  It all gets a bit confusing.

quercylocalNow that we Brits, at least à ce moment (Brexit clouds the future a little), have a tendency to go and live in France, there are, here and there, some English-language magazines.  One of which is The Quercy Local , which covers the ‘Quercy’ region of SW France (parts of the Lot, Lot et Garonne, Tarn et Garonne and Dordogne departments).

Their Winter Issue for 2016/17 has mistletoe on the cover and includes a rather good mistletoe feature, by editor Anna Atkinson, plus an article on mistletoe’s specialist berry-eating birds, the Mistle Thrush and the Blackcap, by Martin George.

And, in their ‘Seasonal Romantic Gifts’ section, they feature my Mistletoe Book – and Grow-Kits – both available from, as always, the English Mistletoe Shop.  Thanks, Quercy Local!

Interested in leafing through it (there’s a lot more than just mistletoe, and much inspiration if you’re a Francophile)?  You can read it online here.

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More Mistletoe Matters – links to mistletoey things to read, buy or do

Grow-Your-Own Mistletoe – kits and gift cards from the English Mistletoe Shop
A Little Book About Mistletoe – printed and Kindle versions
Mistletoe Matters Consultancy – all about mistletoe in Britain
The Mistletoe Pages – even more about mistletoe
Mistletoe Surveys – seeking your input…
Mistletoe Matters on Facebook
Mistletoe Matters on Twitter

November 11, 2016

A visit to Cotehele’s Christmas Garland, and to see their mistletoe too

Final stages of hanging the garland

Final stages of hanging the garland

Cotehele House, the National Trust estate on the Tamar estuary, is famous for its Christmas Garland; a 60-foot long flower-filled decoration they hang in the Hall each year. The dried flowers used are all grown in the estate garden, where there is also, as I’ve probably mentioned before, a large colony of mistletoe in the apple orchard. Mistletoe is fairly rare in this part of the south-west, so the mistletoe is significant. The orchard is valuable too – extended 10 years ago to include a new ‘Mother Orchard’ of historic local fruit varieties, conserving that genetic resource.

The garland takes over a week to make, and today was the last preparation day, ending with it being hung for display to visitors over the next few weeks. And, as we happened to be in the area, we called in to have a look…

The end of the garland, complete with mistletoe

The end of the garland, complete with mistletoe

This year is special – as the garland tradition is 60 years-old. By the time we got there today it was completed and in the air, with just some final adjustments from a scaffold tower.  Chris Groves, NT’s senior gardener at Cotehele (and orchard guru), had just cut one of the finishing touches – a ball of mistletoe from the orchard, to be hung over the door at the end of the garland.  This year’s theme is white – so fits particularly well with the mistletoe.  Or will do when the berries are fully ripe and white – the berries on today’s bunch were still a little green, but Chris will be replacing the mistletoe with fresh, riper-berried, material in the run-up to Christmas.

Afterwards we had a quick look around the orchards – the established one in the main garden, where there is a lot of mistletoe, and the newer Mother Orchard adjoining it.  There was more mistletoe than I remember from my last visit – but Chris is keeping it under control.  He cuts the berried (female) plants to sell in the Cotehele shop each Christmas and manages the unberried (male) plants when doing annual tree pruning.  Here are some pics of the old orchard, with its mistletoe:

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Some bird-sown mistletoe plants have been appearing in a few of the Mother Orchard trees, but he is pruning that out entirely, at least for now, as those are still fairly small trees.  Some, on MM106 rootstock, will stay small-ish but others, on M25 rootstock, will grow to standard tree size and be very suitable for mistletoe.  That’s in the long-term of course – but it does mean that the mistletoe colony at Cotehele looks set to survive well into the future, along with the local apple varieties too.  Some pics of the new orchard below:

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PS for my niece Harriet, if she's reading this, apols for not calling in, all a bit last-minute and anyway you wouldn't want to catch our colds...

More Mistletoe Matters – links to mistletoey things to read, buy or do

Grow-Your-Own Mistletoe – kits and gift cards from the English Mistletoe Shop
A Little Book About Mistletoe – printed and Kindle versions
Mistletoe Matters Consultancy – all about mistletoe in Britain
The Mistletoe Pages – even more about mistletoe
Mistletoe Surveys – seeking your input…
Mistletoe Matters on Facebook
Mistletoe Matters on Twitter

 

November 9, 2016

‘Training’ mistletoe, and thoughts on Churchyards

Filed under: Biodiversity,Current Affairs,Gardening,Religion,social history,Travel — Jonathan Briggs @ 2:28 pm

A day out in London last week, at a conference discussing churchyard trees. Not about mistletoe.  But a surprising number of mistletoe angles…

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A rather blurred picture of some rail-side mistletoe

Starting with the journey there – as I caught the train in from Windsor (the conference was at Waterloo, an easy commute from Windsor) and Windsor is a mistletoe hotspot.  Regular readers will, obviously(!), know this already as I mentioned it last year when reporting on a drive up the Thames valley.

But this was my first time on the railway from Windsor Riverside to Waterloo, and I was keen to find out what mistletoe could be spotted by train.  ‘Training’ plants is a popular pastime with a few (somewhat dedicated) botanists; basically checking on what species you can spot by looking out of the window. It’s more interesting than it sounds, as railway corridors support a variety of species, with some unusual ones in the well-drained habitat amongst the gravel ballast next to the track.  The challenge is to identify them whilst passing at speed…

windsor2

Nice pic, but just missed the mistletoe! (off to the left somewhere)

But on this journey I was looking at the wider landscape, trying to spot mistletoe in the riverside trees (the line runs close to the Thames for much of the first section).  Sure enough there were several sections with significant mistletoe colonies – and I, foolishly perhaps, decided to try recording them using a phone camera. Of course, by the time I had spotted a colony and got the phone pointing at it, we had moved on several hundred metres…  And on the way back again in the evening it was dark.

Meanwhile, at the conference, churchyard trees and the challenges of managing them, were discussed at length.  Presentations were made by a mixture of tree experts and clergy, with a general underlying theme that more could and should be done to manage, conserve and plant more churchyard trees, with a particular emphasis on seeing them as part of the individual church’s history.  Indeed, in the case of many of our churchyard yew trees, the argument could be seen as the opposite; many of our older churchyard yews clearly pre-date their particular church’s foundation (some are 2000 years-old), so it is how the church relates to the tree, not the other way round.

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Typical churchyard mistletoe – growing on a lime tree in an open situation.

Where does mistletoe fit in to this? Two ways – firstly as another, like yew, evergreen with a long history in tradition and religion, so it has relevance at least.  Secondly, mistletoe loves churchyard trees – they are a perfect habitat, being well-spaced. The mix of native and exotic species often ensures at least one suitable host.

So was mistletoe mentioned? Er, no. Not at all!  Apart from by me in conversations over coffee and lunch.  But those discussions were useful, I think, highlighting the value of churchyard tree for mistletoe and the potential for mistletoe to be deliberately planted as part of a tree management project.  It always becomes a talking point, particularly outside its main geographical area.  Good for biodiversity too.  And, last but not least, it has religious relevance.

Not necessarily the right religion – but that’s why it’s a talking point…

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growkitmontage1Mistletoe season looms… and if you want to grow your own talking point have a look at the Mistletoe Grow-Kits from the English Mistletoe Shop.

More Mistletoe Matters – links to mistletoey things to read, buy or do

Grow-Your-Own Mistletoe – kits and gift cards from the English Mistletoe Shop
A Little Book About Mistletoe – printed and Kindle versions
Mistletoe Matters Consultancy – all about mistletoe in Britain
The Mistletoe Pages – even more about mistletoe
Mistletoe Surveys – seeking your input…
Mistletoe Matters on Facebook
Mistletoe Matters on Twitter

 

September 30, 2016

Mistletoe Season looms…

Filed under: Current Affairs,Media,Mistletoe,Religion,Science,social history,Travel — Jonathan Briggs @ 11:18 am

kissmenowToo early for mistletoe? Maybe.

But it’s never off the agenda here at Mistletoe Matters, and we’re already fielding all sorts of enquiries from the press, public etc. So here are a few updates, as they seem to be needed:

– It’s too early to say how good a year it is for mistletoe – there are quite a lot of berries, but they are still unripe and it is impossible to say how big they’ll get or exactly when they’ll turn white this season. There’ll be more info in a few weeks time.

– Mistletoe Auctions in Tenbury will again be at Burford House Garden Stores.  Dates are Tuesday 29th November, Tuesday 6th December and Tuesday 13th December. Further info, including links to buyers and sellers registration documents, are available from Nick Champion.

– Mistletoe websites- all our websites are due some updating – more on that when it’s done!  All are available via www.mistletoe.org.uk

– Druid mistletoe events this season include the public event at Tenbury Wells, which will be at 3pm on Saturday 3rd December at the Burgage. More details later. Though it’s worth noting that you can follow that up with an evening with Damh the Bard at the Fountain Inn, Tenbury. Tickets for Damh are available here.

druidbeer – Tenbury Mistletoe Festival – I’m no longer involved so don’t know what’s planned but you will find info on their website soon (currently still showing 2015 details)

– Mistletoe Surveys – all ongoing, particularly the management surveys. Details of those are on our survey website.

– Mistletoe Matters consultancy is open for advice, talks, media assistance etc – details of that here.

– And last but not least the English Mistletoe Shop (not be confused with similarly-named traders!) is open for grow-kit and book orders – details of all on the shop website.

That’s all for now…  more soon!

 

More Mistletoe Matters – links to mistletoey things to read, buy or do

Grow-Your-Own Mistletoe – kits and gift cards from the English Mistletoe Shop
A Little Book About Mistletoe – printed and Kindle versions
Mistletoe Matters Consultancy – all about mistletoe in Britain
The Mistletoe Pages – even more about mistletoe
Mistletoe Surveys – seeking your input…
Mistletoe Matters on Facebook
Mistletoe Matters on Twitter

January 11, 2016

Mistletoe management season looms, how do you do yours?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jonathan Briggs @ 12:47 pm
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Mistletoe Management Surveys – click the image for more information

After Christmas mistletoe tends to fade away for most people – until Christmas comes round again of course. But for those who grow mistletoe, deliberately or by chance, January is a good time to think about any management that might be needed.

Small amounts of mistletoe are not a problem for the host tree, even though mistletoe is a parasite that takes over the branch it is growing on. But large amounts can become a significant, even life-threatening, burden for the tree, and these need to be managed.

January, February and March, with the host tree still leafless, are ideal for mistletoe management as the mistletoe can be readily seen and assessed. And there isn’t the temptation, present before Christmas, of only cutting the most attractive berried branches. Mistletoe pruning now is just pruning – not cutting for Christmas decorations!

But how often is mistletoe managed (judging by some old orchards in the Severn Vale a lot isn’t!)? And how is it done? I know how I do it and how I advise others, and I’ll be talking about that in the blog over the next few weeks. But in general?

Finding out how (and if) other people manage mistletoe was one of the aims of the Mistletoe League project I set up a few years ago. That project, basically some questionnaires about mistletoe management in orchards and gardens, was re-vamped this winter, with a new simpler (I think) website and new questionnaire forms set up via Google.

So, if you have mistletoe in your orchard or garden why not spend a few minutes looking at the website and taking part in the questionnaire? Results, when there are enough of them, will be made available for all.

There are two management surveys – Orchard and Garden:

orchardmtoegardenmtoe

 

 

 

 

 

 

More Mistletoe Matters – links to mistletoey things to read, buy or do

Grow-Your-Own Mistletoe – kits and gift cards from the English Mistletoe Shop
A Little Book About Mistletoe – printed and Kindle versions
Mistletoe Matters Consultancy – all about mistletoe in Britain
The Mistletoe Pages – even more about mistletoe
Mistletoe Surveys – seeking your input…
Mistletoe Matters on Facebook
Mistletoe Matters on Twitter

December 20, 2015

Watch it! In Datchet. An unscheduled mistletoe road trip

Filed under: Biodiversity,Current Affairs,Media,Mistletoe — Jonathan Briggs @ 8:10 pm
Mistletoe-free, despite best-laid plans

Mistletoe-free breakfast tv sofa, despite best-laid plans

Mistletoe was due to be featured, live, on Sky News’ Sunrise show this morning. But David Cameron’s announcement about police and guns changed their schedules, and so the mistletoe got dropped. Which was a tad annoying, as Dave’s announcement wasn’t exactly exciting and could (surely) have waited until Monday (should I write to Dave to complain?). Whereas I had travelled over to Isleworth (in west London, where the Sky studios are) the night before, ready to take my place on the breakfast sofa brandishing mistletoe. On my very very best behaviour and remembering my lines. All arranged as a final flourish of Morrisons mistletoe promotion of last week.

I was all wound up, ready for action. And, having pulled a muscle in my back, which makes me yelp when sitting down or standing up, I’d even been practising a yelp-free stand-up routine (geddit?) in the mirror in my hotel room, just in case I had to sit or stand live on the telly.

And then I get the call, at 0810; it’s all off. What’s a mistletoe man to do in such circumstances? Dash straight home along the M4? Or make the most of it, regaining some mistletoe focus? I decided to do the latter, and with all the leaves off the host trees now, decide to make it a mistletoe-spotting road trip…

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A rough plot of the mistletoe road trip. Ignore the lettered way-marks, adding those was the only way to get the plot to work reasonably well on the RAC website! The only big error in this plot is that it says I went (centre of map) via Abingdon, but I really went via Wantage – which is a much straighter route.

Mistletoe is, as I’m sure you know, a western species in Britain, so there isn’t much in the London area. But just upstream from Isleworth there is the biggest mistletoe population you’ll find in greater London, all centred in the Hampton Court and Bushy Park areas. I could have gone to admire that, but I’ve seen it all before. So I thought I’d explore a little further upstream, as there is, on the Thames corridor here, quite a lot more mistletoe in scattered colonies, and it would be interesting to do a drive-by of some of these. So I headed west, on the A4, past Heathrow (with a quick pilgrimage drive through Sipson, the village being bought by BAA), to pick up the Thames again, via more minor roads, at Windsor, where there is plenty of mistletoe locally.

datchetMistletoe-spotting by car is hazardous, especially the unexpected sightings, and my first sightings, well before Windsor near Datchet were a bit of a shock. I didn’t know there were lots of mistletoe-bearing trees on the north bank of the Queen Mother Reservoir. But there are, right alongside the road and continuing into Datchet itself. A continuum of the mistletoe around Windsor, the next town along. The riverside and parkland trees in Windsor had, as expected, lots of mistletoe.  (By the way I took no pictures today, it’s difficult enough spotting and logging mistletoe whilst driving, photos would be a hazard too many, so I’m illustrating this blog with maps).

Heading west from Windsor towards Maidenhead I passed signs to Ascot and Bracknell, other places with mistletoe population outposts, but my road was due west, following (roughly) the Thames, so I ignored the temptation to stray. All these outpost populations have existed for ages – and seem natural. But they are quite likely to be the result of long-forgotten organised plantings, the main clue being that most are in historic formal parkland. And they seem to thrive best along the river corridor (or is that most of the parkland is in the river corridor?).

En route to Maidenhead I spot mistletoe in several places, including near Dorney (where the olympic rowing lakes are) and, on the edge of town, around the M4 link roundabout. Not huge populations like the Datchet/Windsor ones, but locally impressive.

From Maidenhead I head up-river to Cookham, and find some small colonies on the common near the Crown Inn, before crossing the river to Bourne End where there is more scattered here and there, again near the river but seeming to be petering out. Have I come to the end of the mistletoe?

henleyOnwards to Marlow, where I nearly decide to cut and run and return along the M40, but I go right round the A404 roundabout twice and head into town, to be instantly rewarded with mistletoe in the grounds of a school on the north side of the A4155. Plus, after driving a little randomly round the suburbs, quite a few sightings in gardens.

Thence to Henley, following the river quite closely from Mill End, where mistletoe is frequent from Henley Business School’s grounds through to Fawley Court (including a lime avenue with lots of mistletoe). Even beyond this area there were small growths in isolated trees, suggesting active spread…

On towards Wallingford, with surprise, surprise, lots of it in trees and parkland extending up the hill out of Henley, away from the river and a higher altitude, which should, on this side of the country, make mistletoe less likely.  Not much in Wallingford itself though, but a few scattered sightings, including in Brightwell-cum-Sotwell, on the way to Didcot.

Little or no mistletoe by now, but this is compensated for by frequent sightings of Red Kites, often in groups, prospecting near the road for carrion, presumably roadkill. There are so many of these magnificent and distinctive birds on this section of the route that I find myself querying my bird recognition skills. But every time I check I confirm that yes that is a Red Kite, and so is that and that. Spotting Red Kites whilst driving is, by the way, a far more dangerous occupation than spotting mistletoe.

At Didcot there are still lots of Kites, some seeming quite at home in suburbia, a real change from their one-time status as endangered.

Then it’s on to Wantage and Faringdon, eventually getting back to the Thames at Lechlade. No obvious mistletoe in any of these places, and none beyond here either, in Fairford or Cirencester. Thames Head is near Cirencester, so this is the watershed between Thames and Severn. All downhill now to home territory in Stroud on the edge of the Severn Vale.

As I come off Rodborough Common, descending into Stroud on Walkley Hill, the mistletoe starts again, by Rodborough Church. This is proper mistletoe country now – and there’s loads of it round here.

Including a few large sprigs of it that are still on the back-seat of the car, having travelled from here to London and back, hoping for a brief moment on TV. I do hope those sprigs enjoyed the journey, especially the mistletoe-themed return road trip.

(Incidentally, that return journey was almost exactly the same mileage (105 ish)as the outward trip yesterday via Swindon and the M4. Today’s route had a lot of little wiggles, but overall was a more direct line, which compensated almost exactly. Took a lot longer though – much slower roads and frequent stops to make notes)

 

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Coming soon, from Mistletoe Diary:

Mistletoe Surveys

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More Mistletoe Matters – links to mistletoey things to read, buy or do

Grow-Your-Own Mistletoe – kits and gift cards from the English Mistletoe Shop
A Little Book About Mistletoe – printed and Kindle versions
Mistletoe Matters Consultancy – all about mistletoe in Britain
The Mistletoe Pages – even more about mistletoe
Mistletoe Surveys – seeking your input…
Mistletoe Matters on Facebook
Mistletoe Matters on Twitter

December 18, 2015

Getting a feel for GOT’s mistletoe

Filed under: Biodiversity,Current Affairs,Mistletoe,Orchard,social history — Jonathan Briggs @ 6:17 pm
Location map - showing, very roughly outlined in red, the three GOT orchards, one without any orchard left!

Location map – showing, very roughly outlined in red, the three GOT orchards, one without any orchard left!

The riverside Poplar next to the orchards, covered in mistletoe growths.

The riverside Poplar next to the orchards, covered in mistletoe growths.

A quick visit to the Gloucestershire Orchard Trust (GOT)’s newly-acquired orchards at Longney, to admire/assess the mistletoe there. GOT have recently bought two traditional orchards, Long Tyning and Bollow, plus another orchard (now mostly gone) in an adjoining field. All next to the tidal Severn just below Gloucester at Longney.

I’ve known the site for many years, partly as part of a circular walk we like to do along the river, but also because of the mistletoe. There isn’t a huge amount of mistletoe in the orchards themselves (though there is too much in a few of the trees) but the site is dominated, to the mistletoe-aware, by a huge riverside poplar tree festooned with mistletoe.

A view downstream from under the poplar tree

A view downstream from under the poplar tree

This is one of my favourite sites to stand and stare at mistletoe, as it’s always an atmospheric place, right by the river. One of the oddest aspects is that you feel so close to the other side of the river, several miles away by road. Here, with it just 100 metres across the tidal flow, it is like glimpsing an unreachable other world.

An 1884 map of the Longney are, showing the number of orchards along the river bank. The GOT land is again roughly outlined in red.

An 1884 map of the Longney area, showing the number of orchards along the river bank. The GOT land is again roughly outlined in red.

These riverside fields were once dominated by orchards, many of which are now gone. Of those that remain many are now troubled by too much mistletoe and today’s visit was a recce to remind myself of the mistletoe situation in the GOT-owned land, with a view to management needed later in the winter.

One of the trees in the GOT orchards with too much mistletoe - so much that, in this case, it has been blown over, probably because of the mistletoe

One of the trees in the GOT orchards with too much mistletoe – so much that, in this case, it has been blown over, probably because of the mistletoe.

Just upstream, in another old riverside orchard, I’ll be running a mistletoe management workshop for GOT in February, part of an initiative from the Three Counties Traditional Orchards Project.

It is, of course, all a matter of balance – with some remedial management needed to regain a reasonable balance between host tree and mistletoe, and then ongoing management to maintain the situation. I’ll end, for now, with a picture of some of the mistletoe in one of the better-balanced trees – showing just what a healthy tree’s mistletoe can look like – check out those berries!

berriesbollowdec2015

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Coming soon, from Mistletoe Diary:

Mistletoe Surveys

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More Mistletoe Matters – links to mistletoey things to read, buy or do

Grow-Your-Own Mistletoe – kits and gift cards from the English Mistletoe Shop
A Little Book About Mistletoe – printed and Kindle versions
Mistletoe Matters Consultancy – all about mistletoe in Britain
The Mistletoe Pages – even more about mistletoe
Mistletoe Surveys – seeking your input…
Mistletoe Matters on Facebook
Mistletoe Matters on Twitter

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