Apple Blossom

Apple Cordons in full blossom

Following on from the Blackthorn blossom a couple of weeks ago, I am now seeing the best display of apple blossom ever in my garden! I had always believed apples needed sufficient cold to set flower buds, but clearly that isn’t the case. Having had warm winters two years in a row, and small crops for the last two years as well, I think the trees have gathered their energies into production. It is of course possible that my pruning has improved and had some effect, but I’m not aware of it. I think it is just a good year for fruit blossom around here.

Blossom from ‘Bountiful’ opening from dark pink to white.

I really enjoy the different colours from different plants, and the change as the petals open.

Anyway as apples are such a great Pagan fruit, I just wanted to share it this week. Pagan because they make a five-pointed star inside, and because anything regarded as totally sinful and at the same time the fount of all wisdom must be good… They are pretty good for promoting harmony and love as well!

Arthur Turner Blossom

Crabapple ‘Laura’ Blossom. The fruit is dark red all the way through.

Blackthorn Weatherforecasting

Blackthorn Blossom

For the past two weeks, almost since the March equinox, the Blackthorn has been increasingly floriforous around here. It is a ghostly presence in the hedges, with its white flowers growing along the smaller branches and tops of Prunus spinosa trees, leaving their black trunks bare underneath – almost like the child dressing up at Samhain with black leggings and a white sheet over their heads. Yet the hawthorn which makes up the bulk of the hedges around here is now glowing green with fresh young leaves, creating a patchwork effect.

The old saying for this time of year was “Beware the Blackthorn Winter.” With high pressure dominating and the weather having turned beautifully sunny and warm for much of the country, I have felt that Spring has finally sprung – yes there is the occasional nightly frost, but nothing particularly long lasting since most days it has gone within an hour of sunrise. So I have been puzzled as to why Blackthorn blossom should suggest a return to winter, and decided to investigate further.

Patchwork of white Blackthorn and green Hawthorn

It turns out that normally the blackthorn flowers at the middle to end of April – when there is very often an unexpected cold period. This year winter has been mild, and the weather seems to be continuing that way, so I am thinking this has caused the blackthorn to be particularly early. It is not alone; bluebells have been flowering since the beginning of April around here, 3-4 weeks earlier than normal. But the result of this is that the Blackthorn is not coinciding with a cold spell as it usually does; MET office forecasts are currently predicting ‘rain or showers, turning wintery’ ie snow for next weekend…

I now await confirmation from another tree for my planting out, using that other favourite saying “Ne’er cast a clout ’till May be out.” It refers to the hawthorn blossom, which is usually in flower in mid-May around here – and has generally proved a reliable guide to the last frosts (provided I wait for my own hedge to flower rather than those in more sheltered locations). It already has flower buds, but as I have seen before, the tree is happy to keep its flowers in bud if necessary until the cold weather is over. Wise old trees!

Best Laid Plans…

Bench under a Rowan tree

Bench under a Rowan tree

When I started this blog I made a list of things I could write about, and one of most important of these, unsurprisingly, was Rowan. I was saving it for when the trees came into flower, and planned to take a photo to use for the title picture instead of the Mistylake picture supplied by WordPress. It would show the feathery green leaves, along with creamy white flowers, and underneath the tree I was hoping to capture either a certain local bench for sitting on and contemplating life (above), or if I could frame a picture appropriately, then a rather lovely stone circle in Derbyshire which has a Rowan tree overlooking it. I could even photograph the small tree in my garden; the ‘under’ aspect is a bit lacking but it will come!

I love the Rowan tree in flower; it wasn’t until I smelt the blossom that I really understood where the name of Quickening Tree came from, but to do so is to experience such an intense energy rising up that you feel anything is possible. While the red berries are also important, they come as the energies are withdrawing and spiralling back down into the earth in the autumn. It is probably not a coincidence that red often symbolises the underworld in Celtic mythology.

As the trees started to come into flower, I started taking the camera out each day when I went walking. Blossom only tends to last until the flowers have been pollinated; after this point they shed their petals and the bees and other insects move on to the next species. So day one, Saturday, I had just reached the tree with the bench when the threatening rain decided to suddenly bucket down. My immediate thoughts were to get the rain covers over the pushchair as quickly as possible, and leave the camera in the drybag! Day two, would you believe it the same thing happened. I usually avoid rain on my walks, unless I am in the mood for a cleansing, or am doing the walk as part of a ritual or meditation where I almost always get sun, wind and rain and possibly also lightening or hail. But not this time! The next two days I walked other places, the weather not being conducive to photography, but I planned Wednesday around getting the photo, when it was predicted to be sunny. The sun duly arrived, but imagine my dismay to find a note on the table telling me the camera had been ‘borrowed’ for the day… it wasn’t even used until Thursday! As I was unable to get to the tree again until Saturday, I wasn’t surprised to find that all the blossom had fallen off or turned brown, and there wasn’t a creamy white flower to be seen.

I will admit to being quite upset, especially on the Wednesday, because I knew then that with a sudden heat-wave the blossom wouldn’t last. However, when I analysed my feelings I realised that most of my upset was due to having been wrong – I was so sure this was the picture I was meant to have on my blog! Clearly it wasn’t meant to be, so I had to accept that and start exploring other ideas.

My thoughts were first that a ‘craft’ blog maybe needed more ‘craft’ than just pointing and shooting with a camera. Second I realised that I could also explore the ‘under’ aspect a little further; the bench is very popular and I have often sat there to pause for a few minutes, but I didn’t actually make the bench or plant the tree… I haven’t quite worked out how I am going to do it yet, but I have had various animals or nature spirits offer me their support and say that they would like to be included. Watch this space, as they say…

Anyway, it seems very appropriate that it is post number 13 that has proved the most unexpected, and has pushed me onto a new path!