Jonathan's Mistletoe Diary

November 30, 2012

Google Streetview and mistletoe hunting

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jonathan Briggs @ 8:17 am

Mistletoe is often thought of as a south-western plant in Britain – though to be more accurate it’s a south-western midlands plant, and is very rare in the true south-west, very little in Cornwall, not much in Devon, and not a lot in Dorset. (See the Mistletoe Pages and Mistletoe Matters distribution info sheet for more info) .

Streetview image of mistletoe at Bushey, Dorset

Streetview image of mistletoe at Bushey, Dorset

Yesterday we had an opportunity for a brief mistletoe hunt in Dorset, mainly repeat visits to known sites, just to check it was still there.  And we used Google Streetview to make sure we were going to the right places – indeed you can use Streetview for mistletoe hunting anywhere, especially when the camera-car toured in winter, when mistletoe is more obvious.

Tantalising mistletoe colony at Pulham - there on streetview but too dark to see yesterday evening...

Tantalising mistletoe colony at Pulham, Dorset – there on Streetview but too dark to see yesterday evening…

One of our sites was at Bushey, a tiny hamlet on Purbeck, where there’s a long-established but very isolated mistletoe population in garden apples and roadside limes and poplars.  And yes it was still there.  Lots of it in fact. A Streetview detail is shown on the left (click to enlarge) – the mistletoe is unmistakable.  The Streetview picture is dated 2009, with the aerial view 2012.

Other sites also still had their mistletoe, though the early evenings thwarted our intention to see them all.  A site at Pulham had to be missed entirely as it was too dark to see, and it had looked so promising on Streetview – see screen-grab on the right. Aerial and Streetview both dated 2012.  Will have to do that one another day…

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Google aerial pictures (without bothering with Streetview) are often useful for mistletoe-spotters too – I use these for checking continuing existence of orchards, and though, like Streetview, they are often a couple of years out of date, they are usually more up to date than the maps. Again, winter pictures are best, as those can show up mistletoe as well (how many other plant species can be detected from aerial photos?).

Here are two examples from Gloucestershire, one clearly showing mistletoe in an orchard aerial view taken in winter (you need to know what you’re looking for…) and the other a similar mistletoe-filled orchard but an aerial pic taken in summer, where the mistletoe is entirely hidden…

Aerial view of mistletoe-rich orchard in winter - mistletoe is obvious

Aerial view of mistletoe-rich orchard in winter – mistletoe is obvious

Aerial view of mistletoe-rich orchard in summer - mistletoe entirely hidden
Aerial view of mistletoe-rich orchard in summer – mistletoe entirely hidden

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November 27, 2012

First Mistletoe Auctions 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jonathan Briggs @ 4:40 pm

Today was the first of the traditional three Tenbury Wells Mistletoe Auctions for 2012.  Lots of mistletoe there, all with lots of berries, but maybe a few fewer buyers than normal – probably because of the travel difficulties this incessant rain is causing.  A few pics below, just to set the (slightly rainy) scene – note the Mistletoe themed Bread and Beer on show – see the Tenbury Wells Mistletoe Festival website for more info on these (try the news page) and for info on the other auctions and events (try the home page).

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November 24, 2012

Tenbury Mistletoe Season is starting – watch last year’s video…

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jonathan Briggs @ 12:25 pm

First mistletoe auctions of the year are due this Tuesday in Tenbury Wells, and I thought it would be fun to embed the One Show video about Tenbury and Mistletoe from last year.  This is the video recently posted online by Mark Adams of Kissmemistletoe, though with a different url just in case the BBC take exception and delete one of them for copyright reasons…  (No copyright infringement intended BBC!).

The video is presented by Christine Walkden, The One Show’s gardening guru and ‘stars’, in order of appearance:

Telegraph’s low-key correction (media round-up 2012 #6)

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jonathan Briggs @ 9:19 am

Telegraph pic used to illustrate letter about mistletoe in Bushey Park, Richmond. The location is an orchard in Tenbury Wells. Go figure.

Have just found yesterday’s letter to the Telegraph (see comments yesterday) in their website edition. It’s an accurate statement by the letter writer – that contrary to their earlier report mistletoe is abundant – but the letter is about growths in Bushey Park, Richmond, and so the Telegraph have headlined it as ‘Parks show no sign of a mistletoe shortage‘.

Which is nowhere near an admission that the wider ‘mistletoe shortage’ they reported is imaginery – and only exists in the mind of Lucy Kinder, their reporter who conflated berry shortages in other plants to berry shortages in mistletoe.  A pity – I know it’s only a trivial matter but a correction would be good.  I’m not going to write to them about it though – they should, if they had competent reporters, be able to work it out for themselves…

But I like the picture they used – as that bloke with the basket is me – though as it’s in an orchard in Tenbury Wells it doesn’t really illustrate the point made in the letter – a pic of Bushey Park would, surely, be more appropriate.

November 23, 2012

A very wet mistletoe week (plus media round-up 2012 #5)

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jonathan Briggs @ 3:17 pm

Mistletoe Workshop, 22nd November

Lots of very wet mistletoe about this week and, at yesterday’s mistletoe management workshop in Herefordshire some very wet people too.

The workshop was a meeting hosted by Herefordshire Orchards Network of Excellence (HONE) to discuss mistletoe in general – and was attended by a great range of orchard growers – some who wanted to be rid of mistletoe and some who desperately wanted to grow more. Differing perspectives mainly based on where you’re from – the ones with too much were local (the workshop was at Westons Cider in Much Marcle, Herefordshire) and those with not enough were from Dorset. If you’re curious about mistletoe distribution have a look at the Mistletoe Pages info online, or download the new Mistletoe Matters Info Sheet.

HONE is/was a network project set up by the Bulmer Foundation in January 2011.  Funding ends next month so HONE is ending too, but it will be continuing in spirit through the “Cider & Perry Orchards Network of Excellence” – for details look at the new (last?) HONE newsletter that’s out today.

The wet weather, with plenty of local flooding in Herefordshire and Gloucestershire, made the workshop a little more challenging, and we dispensed with the practical stuff I had planned to cover outside (though we did have a brisk, wet and muddy walk round several orchards anyway). The conditions were stunningly atrocious when we packed up to go home – sheets of rain falling – but the roads weren’t too bad.  On Wednesday, the night before, it had taken 2.5 hours for me to travel to Hereford through flooded roads – arriving 5 minutes after my mistletoe talk was due to begin – and we thought we’d allowed plenty of time for what should have been a 1 hour journey.

Media interest has remained high this week – though even Rod Kirkpatrick, a freelance photographer who often takes mistletoe pics around this time of year, admitted defeat because of the weather on site yesterday – we had thought some pics of people up ladders pruning mistletoe would be good, even in the rain, but it was the wind that put paid to that plan – too dangerous to be up ladders in trees.

Broadcast media are getting interested now – I’ve spoken to BBC Herefs and Worcs and BBC Oxfordshire this week – both times to the ubiquitous Malcolm Boyden (does he have a show on every BBC local station?).  And Central TV were in Tenbury Wells yesterday, filming a feature that’s due out on midlands TV next Friday (30th Nov) – just in time to promote National Mistletoe Day on 1st December.

And I’m told there’s a letter in the Telegraph today rubbishing (quite rightly!) their silly story about mistletoe being scarce this season – though written by someone describing mistletoe in Bushey Park, Richmond, Surrey rather than mistletoe in orchards – so it doesn’t quite refute the original story as well as it might.  There’s a picture too – which, on info received so far, may well be of me – a long-shot of a bloke in blue coat harvesting  mistletoe from mature standard apples – sounds like a shot from a session at Eastham Park a few years ago – will see if I can get a copy.

And, in other news, the Mistletoe Matters Info Sheet set has progressed a little more – there’s nothing in them that the informed mistletoe enthusiast shouldn’t know already, but they are, hopefully, useful summaries and valuable for those seeking baseline information.  List below – live ones are, er, live – others not yet complete.

November 21, 2012

The new-look Mistletoe Pages – and Info Sheets and Posters

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jonathan Briggs @ 9:13 am

Keeping the Mistletoe Pages website up-to-date is an one of those perpetual tasks.  It has been through several design changes in its 12 year life – but this season, partly to aid editing, it has been migrated entirely to a WordPress system. You can see it here.

So it should all be up-to-date now? Well, not quite – there are still a few gaps to fill with info, but it’s almost all there. Feedback is always welcome so do have a look around.  I’m hoping all remaining gaps will vanish in a the next week or so.

Themes within the site include What is Mistletoe, Traditions, Distribution, Hosts and Habitats, Conservation, Art, Medicine, Grow-Your-Own and Mistletoe trading.

Alongside the new-look website there are also new printable mistletoe information sheets and downloadable mistletoe posters, hosted by provided by Mistletoe Matters Consultancy – but, as with the website, there are still a few gaps (mainly for the info sheets) there too which should be filled very soon. Posters include general mistletoe pictures, mistletoe harvesting in France, and several mistletoe in Art Nouveau compilations.

New this morning is info sheet No 6 (No 1-5 still being prepared, these aren’t being completed in order…) on birds and insects – click the thumbnails below to see it.

November 20, 2012

Mistletoe management (& media round-up 2012 #4)

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jonathan Briggs @ 9:01 am

Mistletoe Management feature in Smallholder magazine

Yesterday I wrote briefly about mistletoe management, and the ongoing struggle to cope with too much mistletoe in the more neglected orchards of the south-west midlands.  It’s an issue which I think is very important, giving rise to a short-lived abundance of mistletoe in some older orchards – which sounds good until you think about that ‘short-lived’ point – too much mistletoe will accelerate the death of the trees, and so accelerate loss of old orchards, and also lead to loss in quantity of mistletoe – within the next decade or so.

But it’s not often written up by journalists – too complicated for the short sound-bites the daily papers and TV news want, and not urgent enough for the countryside press. But this week it has been tackled by Smallholder magazine – in a nicely balanced article covering the Tenbury Festival and management issues.  Written by Andrea Mynard, who blogs at www.shabbychick.me.uk

UK Mistletoe Distribution – click for more information

I spent much of yesterday in Leicestershire, where I was speaking (about mistletoe obv.) to a group in Market Harborough, which is not an area where mistletoe management is an issue – indeed mistletoe is relatively rare there (see map right).  But as I pointed out to them, mistletoe distribution in the UK is changing, so it could be coming their way. I discuss this, in summary, in my recent feature in the December issue of The Garden, the RHS magazine, which is dropping through letterboxes of RHS members this week.

And, changing the subject entirely, Tenbury Mistletoe Festival have released a publicity shot of that mistletoe-themed ‘Sticky Kiss’ bread that I mentioned a couple of days ago. Here it is – looks rather good I think, though just a weeny bit marred, for me, by that awful plastic mistletoe they’ve used in the picture…

November 19, 2012

Battling mistletoe has begun

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jonathan Briggs @ 9:06 am

Spent much of the weekend battling mistletoe – some of the time up in trees, and some of the time going through the same stuff on the ground, twice.  I say battling, as that what it feels like sometimes – especially heavily infested trees that need management.  You end up with a cricked neck and hair and clothing full of mistletoe fragments.

The tree pictured is one in Woodchester, Gloucestershire, and is just one of several in a small 1930s apple orchard there that badly need mistletoe management.  This is the ‘before’ picture – and I forgot to take the ‘after’ one, so you’ll just have to take my word for it that is now looking much less top-heavy.  But definitely a battle – three hours here on Sunday reaching skyward with extending pruning poles trying to get mistletoe cleanly reduced but with tree remaining…

The on-the-ground phase for this site was largely to do with sorting definite waste from potential salesworthy mistletoe – and then, later, re-sorting the potential salesworthy stuff to get to the actually sales-worthy stuff.  Lots of berries, which is good, but mistletoe in these overgrown conditions often has a lot of surface algal growth, so some of this mistletoe isn’t as smart as it should be on closer inspection!

For more on mistletoe management visit the Mistletoe League website.

November 17, 2012

A pint of Kiss Me Now to wash down that mouthful of Sticky Kiss

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jonathan Briggs @ 8:58 am

Several new ventures in Tenbury Wells this season, catalysed by the new Tenbury Mistletoe Association, who have taken on the running of the town’s Mistletoe Festival.

Recently announced delights include mistletoe-themed (though not mistletoe-flavoured*) beer and mistletoe bread.  Extracts from the news releases for both are summarised below.

The Special Edition  ‘Kiss Me Now’ beer has been brewed by Cleobury Mortimer-based Hobsons Brewery.  It will only be available on draught in 25 pubs, restaurants and theatres in the Tenbury Wells region, during December 2012.  The 4.2% abv Blond beer is brewed with Chinnock and Hersbrucker hops to give strong floral and citrus characteristics. No mistletoe was harmed during its manufacture.

And South Shropshire family bakers, Richard C Swift are baking two limited edition loaves during December, both flavoured with Hobsons new ‘Kiss Me Now’ beer.

The Sticky Kiss loaf is made with cranberries that are left to soak overnight in the beer. “Milk, honey and a light sugar dusting make this a very moist and rich bread; perfect for fruity cheeses, honey, with white wines, on its own or, for use in bread and butter pudding.”

The Mistletoe loaf is made with oats and barley with the dough left to soak overnight in the beer. This creates “a bold savoury loaf, perfect with strong cheeses, winter soups, stews and casseroles, or just dipped in flavoured oils”.

For every pint and loaf sold a donation will be made to Tenbury Mistletoe Association, to continue their work promoting Tenbury and its mistletoe traditions.

For full details have a look at the News Releases – Beer is here, and Loaves are here.

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*If you want a truly mistletoe-flavoured drink you’ll have to stay teetotal, and content yourself with Mistletoe Tea.

You can buy that online here – it is, allegedly, excellent for relieving high blood pressure.

For more info on Mistletoe Tea try The Mistletoe Pages.

November 16, 2012

Mistletoe supply 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jonathan Briggs @ 7:26 am

Following on from the initial, and totally untrue (see posts for 14th and 15th November), press reports (repeated in the Independent yesterday too – muppets!) claiming that mistletoe supply is poor this year and that there are few berries, I thought some reassurance would be in order.

  • Mistletoe for the 2012/13 season is looking good
  • There is no shortage
  • There are plenty of berries
  • 2012’s unusual weather has not been a problem

Mistletoe Crop for 2012 is looking good

Hope that’s settled now.

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Don’t believe me? Well, go out and look!!!

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And if you don’t know where to look as there’s not much in your area, you’ll have to buy some.  Where do you buy mistletoe? Well, there’ll be none in the shops just yet but you can order online, or make a date in your diary for the Tenbury Wells Mistletoe Auctions.

The Tenbury auctions are on 27th November, 4th December and 11th December – for contact details and further information visit the Tenbury Mistletoe Festival website.

Online suppliers increase in number every season – the primary ones at present are the same as my posting of 25th October – which were:

All of these supply to individuals, and some do wholesale too.

If you’re just looking for wholesale then you should add

Try not to get too confused by all those ‘English Mistletoe’ brands – the English Mistletoe Shop was first I think (following the old Tenbury English Mistletoe Enterprise) but imitation is good!

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