5/20/2009

May blossoms and Myths


Our hedges are covered with Hawthorn or May blossom at the moment. There is something about the size and shape of the petals that always reminds me of weddings, maybe the petals would make good confetti?
You may be interested to know that the little church in the illustration is based on the church of St James and St Paul in the village of Marton in Cheshire. It is unusual in that it has a timber frame and is thought to be one of the oldest timber framed churches in Europe.


Of all our native trees the hawthorn above all others seems to be associated with the most myths, legends and superstitions. It was considered extremely unlucky to bring the blossom into the house although decorating the exterior of a building was allowed.

I came across an interesting theory as to why this should be on this website It seems that medieval country folk said that the blossom smelt of the plague! Scientists have since discovered a chemical which is present in the blossom is also the same one which is produced by corpses. Maybe this explains why this otherwise attractive plant was so unwelcome in houses?

Our garden is surrounded by hawthorn hedges and makes a very thick, prickly barrier. I have thought about replacing it many times, especially after being pricked by one of its vicious thorns. The advantages have always outweighed the disadvantages however, the main one being the house sparrows who treat it like a communal block of flats, as I write this I can hear the mass chirpings and chatterings of dozens of them.

26 comments:

  1. How pretty - I like that little church we sometimes pass it on our way up towards Alderley Edge and Wilmslow. The Hawthorn or May is gorgeous such a shame that so much superstition clings to it - I can't think of a prettier way to protect your garden and house the sparrows:)

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  2. How fascinating and I love the illustration.

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  3. What a gorgeous illustration, Valerie! You never cease to amaze me with your lovely, delicate designs. Enjoyed learning about the Hawthorn tree? bush?... sure does have pretty blooms.

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  4. Corpses? Really? Such a beautiful sight in full bloom, though. And I love your illustration.

    Also, loved the new Narnia paintings.

    Oh, and Edward says..."Take Ted for a W.A.L.K.!!!

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  5. Valerie - your May blossom is way ahead of ours which is only just coming into bloom. I love it - the smell, the sight - the individual flowers, which are so very pretty. I like your idea of confetti - I do see a connection.

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  6. Our hawthorns are in full bloom here too. I always want to remember, later on, which were white and which were red. I think the berries of one of them are more potent for some herbal remedy. But then I won't be mixing up potions. Some day I'll visit and I'll drive by that church too. But I'll stop and admire it. It looks lovely. Gorgeous illustration. You are so talented. - Jeanne in Oregon

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  7. We have a little old Hawthorne tree in the back. The birds love it. Your illustration and photo are both wonderful.

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  8. Wow! I had NO idea about the history of the aroma of the Hawthorne tree. I just now went out to test the smell of ours! It bloomed for the first time since we've moved here! It is a sweet rather cloying aroma.

    How VERY interesting. Thank you for sharing its history.

    My family has always loved hawthorne trees. It always bloomed on my sister's birthday! It still does.

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  9. By the way, your illustration fills my eyes with its' delicacy. Thank you for sharing!

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  10. Really! My little sis was born on May 9th, and my Mom on May 18th. I was always so envious they had a tree flower just for them on their birthdays!

    In answer to your question--the daisy girl was actually modeled after my little middle daughter. I draw those I love. Many pieces have people I know peeking from them.

    (grin)

    I LOVE your artwork. You are truly truly gifted. Thank you for visiting my blog--I'm deeply honored.

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  11. Hi Valerie,

    A "WIP" is an acronym for "Work in Progress." When I moved to the States from England one of the first things I noticed was that abbreviatons and acronyms are wildly popular over here!

    I'm still in love with the look of those Hawthorn blooms even if they do smell rather putrid!

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  12. Oops! Make that "abbreviations"! (been a long day)

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  13. Beautiful artwork, Valerie! First time I've seen a tree like that. It looks intriguing and enchanting!

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  14. Very interesting information on the blossom. It certainly has a very distinctive smell. Love the church illustration. I love visiting old churches. Pity Cheshire is so far away.

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  15. I was always told it was unlucky to bring the hawthorn blossom into the house.The other evening we had a hedgehog in our garden, made me think of your lovely painting.  

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  16. Nice illustration, interesting info about the hawthorn,
    we have a a long hedge down one side of our garden and single remnants of hawthorn on all our other boundries, they team with wildlife and I love that. Charming blog keep it up.

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  17. Very interesting! We do not have hawthorne over here. Too bad, as it seems to be so lovely.

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  18. I do like that painting, and also learning more about the beautiful hawthorne. Must be wonderful to hear those birds!

    xo

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  19. I love the hawthorn May blossom, it always looks so exuberant! Your illustration is beautiful.

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  20. I have always been intrigued with small country churches and how important they were in the past as a gathering places for people in rural communities. Your painting is really lovely!

    Gillian

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  21. Interesting information-- I have a lovely hawthorn blooming outside my kitchen window, and the birds love to perch in it. Lovely illustration!

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  22. Hawthorn reminds me of my childhood. Your gift is as bright and fresh as ever was. Lovely.

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  23. How lucky you are to be surrounded by hawthorn......I remember a couple of centuries ago walking down a street near Manchester that was lined with hawthorns and it has been a constant memory for me that I treasure..how interesting about the smell connection, I don't remember it smelling badly...maybe because it looked so beautiful. Charming and excellent illustration as ever...thanks, Patricia

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  24. Gorgeous illustration, and beautiful hedges too (even if they're thorny)

    I love small country churches, although ours here in the States aren't nearly as old as those in the UK. I'd soooooo love to see some of them one day....

    ~ Carolee

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  25. I really like hawthorn, it has looked particularly wonderful here in Scotland this spring. Interesting details you've posted about it..

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  26. Hello Valerie, This Hawthorn bush of yours looks like our "Bridal Wreath" which is blooming everywhere in our town at the moment and I do not have one. My neighbor and I was going out on Wednesday to see if we can find me one to buy. This photo is a beautiful it is certainly blooming with all its heart. Hugs Judy

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