Jonathan's Mistletoe Diary

March 14, 2017

Mistletoe season almost, but not quite, over

Filed under: Current Affairs,Gardening,Media,Mistletoe,Orchard — Jonathan Briggs @ 5:01 pm

Spring is just about here, which means it’s almost the end of mistletoe berrying – cutting berries for propagation projects and for the mistletoe grow-kit business – for this season.  Which is always something of a relief, after 6 months of life dominated by mistletoe queries, projects and talking, cutting, gathering, planting etc.  Though I expect, after many years experience, that this will, as usual, make for a disconcertingly directionless few weeks at the start of April.

But for the next 2 weeks the season goes on mainly, at this late stage, simply servicing the grow-kit demand, cutting berries to send out to wannabe mistletoe growers around the country. I say cutting, not picking, as we find that picked berries become, through being picked, damaged, with broken skin and oozing berry contents. And those deteriorate quickly, as well as just becoming a glutinous mess if posted en masse. So every berry is actually cut, using those tiny scissors made for florists, to retain a little bit of stalk, thereby keeping the berry intact.

This is done with bunches of mistletoe cut from the tree, so it can be done in relative comfort indoors.  But it does create an interesting new ‘leaning forward’ neck-ache, to add to the ‘craning-upwards’ neck-ache already prevalent after spending hours staring upwards and stretching to cut the mistletoe from the tree with an extending pruning pole.

The seeds in the berries are, by now, itching to germinate, with the hypocotyl primordia showing as a small but prominent bulge on the seed.  Within a few weeks any not planted will simply germinate within the berry, still on the parent plant – in a defiant final , but in their case pointless, effort to survive. By May any berries left on the parent will contain these tragic might-have-been mistletoes, their hypocotyls hopelessly extended and seeking a host branch yet doomed through being stuck, literally, within their own berry.

But this isn’t the fate of the seeds from the berries in the grow-kits – they’re the lucky ones, being sent out to be formally introduced to their new hosts…

Want to try it yourself?
Mistletoe grow-kits are available from the English Mistletoe Shop websites here: http://englishmistletoeshop.co.uk/live/ and here: http://growmistletoe.co.uk/index.html

 

December 20, 2016

Mistletoe on the radio

Filed under: Current Affairs,Media,Mistletoe,Orchard,social history — Jonathan Briggs @ 7:06 pm

Some interesting (well I think so) mistletoe coverage here and there on the radio recently – including more local radio interviews for me (today I did BBC Radio Suffolk again, for the second time this season, and Suffolk has hardly any mistletoe) and a slot on BYU Radio, a talk radio station based at Brigham Young University, Utah but broadcasting widely via satellite and the web.

The BYU interview was unusual – not simply because it was a US-based station – but because the station is so scholarly and particularly as the interview was in Julie Rose’s 2-hour long Top of Mind show which features ‘Smart, informative conversations and interviews that go beyond mere headlines and sound bites’.  Nothing as trivial as a two minute chat on a BBC local radio breakfast show – instead it is structured as extended one-to-one conversations with a guest on topical matters.

Yesterday’s edition of Top of Mind featured Is Trump Risking War with China?, The Future of US-Russia Relations, The Nativity is a Refugee Story, “Rogue One” Review, and Britain’s Rip-Roaring Holiday Theater Tradition. Plus, sandwiched between US-Russian Relations and the Nativity as a Refugee Story, Why Mistletoe Matters, featuring yours truly.

A slightly challenging interview, as I felt I should try to bring in US mistletoes as much as I could, but also to champion European mistletoe – which is, as regular blog readers well know, the real mistletoe of mid-winter tradition. The others, though fascinating, have been conscripted into a Christmas-tide role that doesn’t quite suit them. And I felt that though the issues of England’s declining apple orchards might seem a little irrelevant to an international audience, I had to mention them anyway.  Overall I think it all hung together fairly well considering.

You can listen for yourself via this link:

http://www.byuradio.org/episode/40a9939d-028d-4ccd-8f11-c8fe10d61959/top-of-mind-with-julie-rose-one-china-us-russia-relations-mistletoe-s-secrets-nativity-story-refuge?playhead=2163&autoplay=true

Note that this will start you at the mistletoe section, missing out the Trump/China and US-Russian Relations interviews. If you want to hear the whole show from the start, follow this link:

http://www.byuradio.org/episode/40a9939d-028d-4ccd-8f11-c8fe10d61959/top-of-mind-with-julie-rose-one-china-us-russia-relations-mistletoe-s-secrets-nativity-story-refuge

It’s all worth listening to, especially if you’re a fan of informed discussion on proper talk radio but are UK-based and usually rely entirely on BBC Radio 4.

NB I know I said I’d be covering immigrant Blackcap birds and their mistletoe-berry-habits in the next blog. But I’m leaving those until next time, again…

December 13, 2016

Mistletoe media 2016, so far…

Filed under: Biodiversity,Current Affairs,Gardening,Media,Mistletoe,Science,social history — Jonathan Briggs @ 9:40 am
morrisons2

Morrisons mistletoe promo – I haven’t noticed the ‘mwah-issons’ catch-phrase this year, maybe they’ve dropped it.

A quiet season so far, with Morrisons, giving out mistletoe in their supermarkets again, decisively in the lead (nothing to do with me – I helped their media campaign in 2015 but haven’t been asked back!).  Their campaign was trending all over the place yesterday – getting promoted in lots of local newspapers across the UK, plus a few national (e.g. the Mirror) and going viral on bargain-hunting websites, including Martin Lewis’ MoneySaving Expert and on HotUKDeals.  Those have a lot of followers.  But their angle is about getting free mistletoe, whereas Morrisons, by giving it out free, claim their story is about continuing the kissing tradition (they commissioned a survey last year that said only 14% of people kissed under mistletoe, and 71% under 35 never had). 

morrisons1

Another Morrisons promo pic – but do they they provide this service in all their cafes?

Morrisons story is of course also, and very much so, about getting people into their shops – so going viral online suggests significant success.

Part of the Morrisons story, as reported in the papers, is that mistletoe is very expensive this season, due to the ‘mild winter’ last year reducing the amount available.  This is, of course, rubbish.  There’s plenty of mistletoe about, with lots of berries, but the high prices at the first of the Tenbury Wells mistletoe auctions this year caught media attention, so an explanation was invented (I’m not sure by whom but I have my suspicions!) and the story has stuck.

markadamstelegraphOther mistletoe media in Britain has included the usual ‘man up a ladder’ pic in the Daily Telegraph (this year featuring Mark Adams) way back on 22nd November.  If you can read the caption (sorry, only have a low-res version) on the pic you’ll notice Mark is saying the mild spring means this could be one of the best crops ever. Compare that to the current round of nonsensical ‘mistletoe shortage due a mild winter’ mentioned above.

stunningsun1

‘Mistletoe is traditional’ says the Sun – but their picture isn’t traditional mistletoe… 

Talking of inaccuracy, what’s the Sun’s coverage been like? Well, they’ve run a big feature about mistletoe traditions, a little light-weight but in keeping with the paper, and illustrated with a big pic of berryless US mistletoe,  – without noticing that it’s not the right species and without the crucial white berries – and so missing the point entirely (ironic, as their picture caption says ‘Mistletoe is Traditional’).

The Sun, and others, have also run a story about Poundland stores selling a Christmas decoration mis-spelling mistletoe as misteltoe.  This spelling error was spotted by 6 year-old Maisie from Norfolk, not by Sun reporters.

Much more accurately, in the Times, Matthew Oates has covered mistletoe in the Nature Notebook column, referring to the abundant crop this year and discussing its interesting bird and insect associations.  I’m mentioned too, but somewhat bizarrely described as being responsible for the abundance because I’ve ‘inspired recording effort’ (i.e. promoted the spotting and recording of mistletoe for ecological databases). I assume something got lost in a sub-edit – as recording effort doesn’t make abundance, it merely records it.  And, if I was to be really pedantic, I would point out there has been no major recording effort for mistletoe since the 1990s, twenty years ago. That was certainly championed by me, but it was some time ago!

Meanwhile, across the pond, there is the usual rash of lightweight and trivial mistletoe stories.  The only one I’ll mention here is the announcment that, not surprisingly, Six Flags did establish a new mistletoe kissing record. Read all about on Fox News.

(So far this season I’ve heard no reports of mistletoe being hung on tube trains – so awkward for commuters last year…)

 

gyoMore 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 10, 2016

Growing Your Own – not yet… later!

Filed under: Current Affairs,Gardening,Media,Mistletoe,Science — Jonathan Briggs @ 8:25 pm

 

2yearIt’s that time of year again. When people (and the media, today it was BBC Suffolk’s turn) ask, how do I grow mistletoe? And expect to be told ‘how to do’ details now, at Christmas-time, as that’s when they have mistletoe.

But no, now is not the time for planting.  Planting time is a couple of months away – in February, March or even April.  When most people don’t have any mistletoe…

Now is also the time when enquiries come in from people who have started growing mistletoe and now, 10 months later, are worried the tiny growths they have are too small. But no again, tiny is exactly correct for the first 12-24 months.

germinationSo, with these enquiries in mind, and at risk of telling regular Mistletoe Diary readers stuff they’ve heard before, here’s a summary of how to grow it and what to expect in the first few years…

Firstly, as always, ignore the advice in most gardening books and from most garden ‘experts’ to cut a nick in host bark and place seeds under this or under tape.  It’s unnecessary, counter-productive and kills most of the seeds. It’s also, probably, why most of that advice is usually accompanied by a comment that the seeds rarely grow. Of course they rarely grow if you cut the bark or hide the seeds – you’re killing them

squeezeThe way to grow mistletoe successfully is to mimic bird sowings – the seeds, covered with sticky mucilage from the berry, are adapted to stick to the outside of the host bark, exactly as they would be if wiped or excreted by a bird.

And they are photosynthetic – they need light to survive – so they must be on the outside of the bark.

sowAnd er, basically, that’s it; stick the seeds, using their own glue, to the host bark.  And wait…

It’s slightly more complex than that of course – you need to choose the right sort of host and the right size of branch with, ideally, relatively thin but intact bark. But basically you just glue the seed on.  And in the right season – February to early April.

And, as above, wait…  For some time.  Germination itself, in February and March, is fairly fast, with the seed sending out one, two or even three tiny green shoots (many seeds have tripletsmultiple embryos and so give rise to twin or triplet plants).  These shoots bend round to meet the bark within a few weeks and then –  nothing seems to happen for about 12 months.  Sometimes longer.

But things are happening out of sight – the shoot has penetrated shallowly, just as far as the host cambial (growth) cells, and is busy establishing connections for water supply and persuading the cambial cells that it, the mistletoe, is a legitimate part of the tree. This takes some time.

twinsSo, after 12 months your mistletoe shoot may look just the same as it did at 3 months.  But, as long as it is still green it is doing ok.  You just have to be patient. Even when it does start to grow a little, in year 2 or 3, it may only produce a couple of leaves. But once it is really established every shoot will divide into two every year, and growth will soon seem very rapid.

gyoThere’s more advice on the Mistletoe Pages here – and, if you want more help or just don’t think you can get mistletoe in the spring, you can try using one of the Mistletoe Grow-Kits from the English Mistletoe Shop – available from the main site here, or our special grow mistletoe shop here.

And, if you want to give a kit at Christmas you could give one of the Grow-Kit Gift Cards – made for you to give at Christmas and for the recipient to redeem, for a Grow-Kit, in spring.  Full details of all these are on the main shop page here, or the grow mistletoe shop page here.

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
urban2

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]

urban3

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!

urban5

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…

windsor1

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.

church1

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

 

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