Hawthorn: a celebration of May

By Jac Campbell

Each day of lockdown I’ve been running along the River Lark, waiting for the moment when the creamy white Hawthorn blossoms burst open. I love this particular tree with the yellow lichen echoing the centres of the flowers.

I was reading that Hawthorn was part of the May Day festivities. Large leafy branches were set in the ground outside houses and decorated with wildflowers. Some say this Maybush was the origin of the Maypole. This practice was acceptable outdoors but it was considered deeply unlucky to bring the blooms into the house. Many of you will know that the tree by the name May blossom and maybe as Quickthorn.

A decorated May bush
A Maybush with some unusual decorations

In the past the leaves were eaten, the strong and fine grained wood was used for carving and the haws were cooked into jellies and wine: an all round useful tree to have around.

These days its a fantastic tree for wildlife habitats and a great one to plant in the garden. If you’re passing a Hawthorn on your walk today look out for Hawthorn Shield bugs, later in the year you may see Yellowhammers feeding on the haws.

I think my attention was first drawn to the Hawthorn when I saw the paintings of David Hockney. I guess thats the power of art to help us look at things more deeply and in new ways.

If you’d like to join our online plant share take a look at this Plant Share link.

David Hockney’s Hawthorns

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