Thursday, 21 May 2015

34. Hawthorn - May blossom

May blossom
All the trees and shrubs are in leaf  and wherever I look I see green, green, green. But the fresh green of the hedgerows is now frosted with layers of white hawthorn blossom that lie on the branches like snow. It is mid-May and the fullness of summer is on its way.

Hawthorn, whitethorn or May blossom has a special place in Irish mythology. Many rag trees near holy wells are hawthorn. We invite visitors to the Garden to tie wishes to our own special thorn tree, and many adults as well as children enjoy doing so.

Visitor's wishes on the hawthorn
Other hawthorns in significant spots are known as fairy trees, and woe betide anyone who damaged them. In a famous case only fifteen years ago Clare County Council were persuaded to change the route of the Ennis bypass to avoid cutting down a 'lone thorn' that stood in the way. The tree still stands by the side of the busy road.

Are these beliefs just silly superstitions; old nonsense that brings a knowing smile to a modern face? Or are they an expression of something deeper, an understanding of the sacredness in nature, and respect and care for the trees as part of the natural world that sustains us?

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