Jonathan's Mistletoe Diary

October 18, 2018

Some mistletoe events at Tenbury Wells 2018

Filed under: Current Affairs,Media,Mistletoe,Religion,social history,Travel — Jonathan Briggs @ 2:41 pm

Tenbury is hosting its mistletoe auctions and festival again this year.

auction1Mistletoe Auction dates are:

  • Tuesday 27th November
  • Tuesday 4th December
  • Tuesday 11th December

All take place at Burford House Garden Stores, Burford, Tenbury Wells, WR15 8HQ and are organised by Nick Champion.


druids1Druid Mistletoe Ceremony is on Saturday 1st December
This is organised by The Mistletoe Foundation who will be on the Burgage in Tenbury Wells for the Mistletoe Ceremony at 2pm as part of Tenbury Mistletoe Festival 2018.

The ceremony will honour the Mistletoe, male and female plants, and the harvests of the Teme Valley.  Participants (all welcome) are invited to meet at S.E.N.S.E (Temeside House, Teme St, Tenbury Wells, Worcestershire, WR15 8AA) at 1.15pm. The procession to the Burgage will begin at 1.45pm. Or you can join in at the Burgage from 2pm.

Other Mistletoe Festival Event information will be available soon – you can check the Tenbury Mistletoe Association website (showing last year’s events at present)  or their facebook page for updates.


December 10, 2017

Radio Gloucestershire, despite the snow

kateclarkI was talking mistletoe, and mistletoe Grow-Kits, with Kate Clark from Radio Gloucestershire this morning. In the studio in Gloucester, despite the snow.

Can’t add audio direct to the blog but click the link below to go an extract of the mistletoe bit:

Or, for the whole programme try iplayer here:

And for Grow-Kits themselves try here: or here:

December 1, 2017

December 1st, National Mistletoe Day! 

Filed under: Current Affairs,Media,Mistletoe,Religion,social history — Jonathan Briggs @ 9:23 am
From the Daily Telegraph, 29th November: “A buyer carries bundles of mistletoe away after the first Christmas holly and mistletoe auction of the season in Tenbury Wells, Worcs, an event 160 years old”

From the Daily Telegraph, 29th November: “A buyer carries bundles of mistletoe away after the first Christmas holly and mistletoe auction of the season in Tenbury Wells, Worcs, an event 160 years old”

December 1st, National Mistletoe Day!  And interest in mistletoe is building rapidly (as usual!). The first of the Tenbury Wells Mistletoe Auctions was held last Tuesday and was, I’m told (sorry I wasn’t there guys, missed the craic, hope to be there next week), much the same as normal. Lots and lots of mistletoe lots, and the ever-present media interest.  The Daily Telegraph published a photo (see right) the next day but I’m not sure who else ran features.  Some may be waiting until nearer Christmas.

Prices for this first auction seemed a bit low – “Mistletoe 1st Quality” fetching up to £2.50 per kg but an average of £1.25 and “Mistletoe 2nd Quality” only £0.75p per kg and averaging £0.25p.  For details on these and previous years visit the mistletoe and holly page of Nick Champion’s website at

Those are wholesale prices of course – don’t confuse them with what you’d pay in the florist, greengrocer or supermarket – by the time mistletoe gets there much has been discarded and it has been handled, washed and cut numerous times (and therefore much more costly!).  But if you’re a supplier these prices are a little worrying – they’d hardly pay for your fuel getting the mistletoe to the auction.  I prefer to think of the mistletoe sales as a way to subsidise mistletoe management rather than a way to make mega-profit!

From The Guardian 29th November:

From The Guardian 29th November: “Mistletoe farmer Mark Adams harvests the Christmas crop from his family orchard in Worcestershire”

Meanwhile I’ve been busy all week with other mistletoe business, as indeed have others: I was the sole male at the 100-strong Wolverhampton Ladies Luncheon Club (est. 1932) on Wednesday where the table decorations were made with mistletoe supplied by mistletoe supplier Mark Adams.  Mark himself featured in a picture in the Guardian a few days ago (see left).

Tomorrow, Saturday 2nd, is Mistletoe Festival Day in Tenbury Wells, where there’ll be a mistletoe kissathon in the morning (details at and in keeping with the spirit of very ancient Christmas past, a Druid Mistletoe Ceremony in the afternoon.

The Druid Ceremony is organised by the Mistletoe Foundation and officially starts at 2pm at the Burgage recreation ground .  I won’t be there (sorry Suzanne!) as I’m busy talking about mistletoe elsewhere tomorrow, but I hope it goes well – it’s well worth attending if you can.  Just turn up at the Burgage at 2pm or, if you want to be part of the procession, volunteer for a part etc, be at the Rose & Crown (on the north side of the river just outside Tenbury) from 1pm.  Details here:

Mistletoe Information: for general mistletoe info visit the Mistletoe Pages website.

And for mistletoe books, cards or kits to grow your own druidic berries visit the English Mistletoe Shop website:

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…


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…


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.


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…


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

– 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

October 31, 2015

All Mistletoe’s Eve?

Filed under: Current Affairs,Gardening,Mistletoe,Orchard,Religion,social history,Travel — Jonathan Briggs @ 8:18 pm

Unripe mistletoe berries. These are on the shady side of the host tree. Those on the sunny side are already whitening up for winter…

All Hallows’ Eve, and the mistletoe is ripening… Not that it’s got anything to do with Halloween of course, other than being a mysterious plant, a symbol of pagan tradition and a portent of the dark winter months. Which is, I s‘pose, quite a lot.

But with November dawning tomorrow we’ll soon be right back into mistletoe season. So I think it’s fair to say this is Mistletoe’s Eve too.

Actually, mistletoe season never quite goes away for us mistletoe-enthusiasts – I’ve been mistletoe-spotting and plotting all summer…

There’ll be more about all that (the spotting and plotting) later in the season. For now, a brief summary of some of the mistletoe things happening this winter, in no particular order:

Mistletoe Auctions
The Tenbury Wells Mistletoe Auctions are on three Tuesday mornings as usual – this year’s dates being 24th November, 1st December and 8th December. They’ll be at Burford House Garden Store again, like last year. For details of times, location etc visit Nick Champion’s website (Nick is the auctioneer).

The auctions are commercial wholesale events, but open to all and well worth a visit as you’ll see more mistletoe in one place then you’ve ever seen before, but on the ground, not on a tree (which does mean, sadly, that it has lost its magic power – according to Druid legend mistletoe must never touch the ground – ancient druids (see below) would catch cut mistletoe as it fell, in a white sheet…)

Mistletoe Training
There will be some mistletoe management training from Mistletoe Matters this season – some for private groups, some open to all – details will be available later in the season.

Mistletoe Druid Events
I am aware of plans for two druid mistletoe ceremonies so far – more may be announced later. Some are private events, others are open to all. One of the public events will be at Tenbury Wells on Saturday 28th November at 3pm.

Mistletoe Festival
And talking of Tenbury events, there is the Mistletoe Festival – whose main events take place on Saturday 5th December. I’m no longer directly involved in the Festival, so can’t give much of an insight in what’s going on – you’ll find details at

Mistletoe Surveys
This season sees the re-launch (delayed from last year) of the various Mistletoe League surveys, gathering information on mistletoe management in orchards and gardens and on mistletoe susceptibility varies between fruit tree varieties. More about these later in the season – for now I’ll just point out they have a new website – at

Mistletoe Websites
And talking of new websites, as well as the new surveys website there is now a new website for Mistletoe Matters, where I put most of my mistletoe advice. I’ll post some info about that soon too.

Not forgetting, of course, the ongoing Mistletoe Pages website, which has loads of general mistletoe information.

Mistletoe Sales Websites
Last but not least there are the online mistletoe trading websites – including my English Mistletoe Shop – the main site here, or the dedicated Grow-Kit site here. We (English Mistletoe Shop) are not selling mistletoe online this season – but I’ll post a review of those sites that are (including those with confusingly similar names to us) in November.

And, er, that’s it for now. There’ll be more Mistletoe Diary blogging soon – I’ve been saving lots of stuff up for November/December….

November 25, 2014

Mistletoe Drones – silly and serious

Filed under: Biodiversity,Current Affairs,Food and Drink,Mistletoe,Religion,Science — Jonathan Briggs @ 12:51 pm

Today sees the first of the 2014 Tenbury Mistletoe Auctions – and I’m unable to be there. So instead here’s a story (two stories actually – a serious one and a silly one) about mistletoe drones.

The Mistletoe Diary has covered mistletoe drone stories before, notably last year when some ‘interactive artists’ deployed a mistletoe-bearing drone in Union Square, San Francisco.

This year reports of similar initiatives are coming in from all over the place. This is, actually, not all that surprising: ‘Toy’ drones have become really popular, and what better way is there to hang mistletoe over people? No longer do you have to wait until you stand under the mistletoe – now you can make the mistletoe come to you – or to your friend.

One UK example is in TGI Fridays where mistletoe drones will be flying around diner’s heads this Christmas, following a trial at their Manchester store. Their promotional video from Manchester is below.

TGI Fridays say that a survey (whose? when?) has found 47% of Brits have never kissed under mistletoe – and this is their attempt to correct this.

Sadly, of course, they are doomed to fail. Why? Because that’s not mistletoe hanging from the drone – it’s plastic imitation mistletoe, and that’s hardly an inspiration to follow the traditions of the ancients! If you want to revive a tradition then surely you should start by following it! But perhaps this is TGI Fridays style – a little bit plasticky?

Drone used for mistletoe surveying in the Cayman Islands

Drone used for mistletoe surveying in the Cayman Islands

Now, talking of real mistletoe, here’s a story of a proper mistletoe drone – this time a serious story using drones to survey mistletoe. The mistletoe concerned is Dendropemon caymanensis, a rare mistletoe endemic to Little Cayman, one of the Cayman Islands.

Last summer the local Department of Environment teamed up with staff from Kew Gardens in the UK to spot and map out the species by flying a camera drone over the forests it grows in – this being a much quicker way than going in on foot and having to look at every tree. Full details of the project (which completed this summer) are here.  Note (left) the rather more sophisticated drone they are using!

A news report, detailing the, er, limited success of the project is in the video below (if the video doesn’t play click here to view it in a new window)

This sort of approach could also be used in here in the UK – as mistletoe is, as I’ve pointed out in Mistletoe Diary before, one of the few plants that can be mapped from aerial photography. But we have little need of such an approach, as all our mistletoe is fairly obvious from the ground.

Nevertheless the concept is appealing – and I’ve been thinking about using a camera-carrying drone to examine how mistletoe grows in higher trees (without having to climb them) and also to simply take pictures of mistletoe from above – which gives a whole new perspective. But that’s all still on the drawing board for now… (but can you guess what’s on my Christmas list?).


EMShopWant to know more about mistletoe? Visit the Mistletoe Directory page for links to mistletoe information, and to sites where you can buy grow-kits, books and cards…


October 6, 2014

Oh no, it’s mistletoe season again!

Filed under: Biodiversity,Current Affairs,Mistletoe,Religion,Science — Jonathan Briggs @ 11:47 pm

Mistletoe season is looming ever larger. Again. And despite it happening this time every year, I do feel it’s taken me a little by surprise this season. Lots still to do and to plan. Including reporting on current mistletoe matters here.

This season I’m planning to;

Mistletoe Seedlings - the results from some of my in vitro experiments earlier this year - more about these soon

Mistletoe Seedlings – the results from some of my in vitro experiments earlier this year – more about these soon

  • re-launch the Mistletoe League project, making a clearer distinction between the management survey and the fruit varietal preference survey (if you don’t know what that’s all about, visit More on this in November
  • review the use of drones in mistletoe survey work (yes, really)
  • discuss seedling survival – how long can a mistletoe seedling survive without connecting to the host?
  • ponder on seed, and seedling survival without light – to stress that you must never keep your mistletoe seeds in the dark (‘cos if you do, they’ll die)
  • re-visit a close encounter with parasitic plants when I was 14 – and realise, with hindsight, that the event has a lot to answer for
  • list, and discuss, mistletoe and mistletoe-related events this season
  • announce some mistletoe book news (I hope…)
  • think on mistletoe imagery at Christmas – and current trends in mistletoe designs

And lots of other mistletoey stuff, as it arises. All of it, obviously, presented in the best possible taste (I’ll keep the references to the ‘sperm of the gods’ to a minimum).

That’s all for now – I’ll be back blogging properly from next week.

EMShopThe English Mistletoe Shop is open again this season, though this year we are concentrating more on grow-kits rather than mistletoe itself. There’ll be more news on that soon.

October 24, 2006

Mistletoe Travels

Filed under: Current Affairs,Food and Drink,Religion,Science,Travel — Jonathan Briggs @ 8:32 pm

This is a test posting for the 2006 Mistletoe Travels blog – which will carry on the mistletoe themes developed by Mistletoe Diary in 2005/6 and 2004

For more info on all mistletoe matters check out the Mistletoe Gateway.

April 23, 2006

Dr Who, Mistletoe and werewolves…

Filed under: Doctor Who,Mistletoe,Religion,Science — Jonathan Briggs @ 7:10 pm

“Omigod!!!” Mistletoe has just featured in Dr Who!!

Sorry about the OmiGod, I know it’s getting a bit passe now*. But Dr Who and Mistletoe – what more could one ask for??

Ok, so it wasn’t exactly explained why european mistletoe kept an alien werewolf (more correctly a ‘lupine wavelength human variform’) at bay, but it did seem to work. The Doc and his companions (including Queen Victoria) survived unharmed for a while in a panelled room varnished with ‘Oil of Mistletoe’. And it wasn’t quite technically perfect – the Doc seemed to think Viscum album was the name for ‘Oil of Mistletoe’ rather than the plant itself – but he did accurately point out it was full of Lectins and Viscotoxins – so perhaps these Time Lords do know what they’re on about after all. Must try this myself next werewolf season…

For a full plot synopsis try the Wikipedia site. I may have missed a bit – as I was watching the repeat on BBC3 – a digital channel we still don’t get here in densely populated Gloucestershire – a scandal the Beeb and/or the Government must sort out soon or I’ll be taking them to court for breach of contract on the TV licence. We can only watch it whilst holding the aerial lead and with a specially boosted signal – and even then it conks out every minute or two. But the cricked neck from holding the aerial was worth it.

Er, that’s it for now, mostly relatively quiet on the mistletoe front (apart from the ongoing grow your own enquiries, more mistletoe initiatives in London, the Royal Worcester Mistletoe mug initiative etc etc… keeps me busy, even out of season)

*For non-UK readers, or those in the UK who’ve spent the last few months in solitary, Omigod became the (rather tedious) catchphrase of Chantelle, the, er, non-celebrity who won the recent UK Celebrity Big Brother – if you really really want to know what that’s about you could try clicking here…)

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