Monday, April 6, 2009

Witch trees and more

Pussywillows galore!
Went out and about in local area ditches yesterday as planned and got lots of fabulous willow.
There are many varieties of willow growing on the Island, each with its own shade of bark ranging from lusterous greens to deep earthy reds. Lovely in mixed spring bouquets. Also got some alder with catkin buds starting to form.

Harvesting was a bit perilous from time to time. Still lots of snow about in the ditches and every so often the surface I was standing on would give way landing me up to my thighs and involving undignified maneoverings to get out. Largely my own fault for looking at where I wanted to be rather than where I was going.

Harvested some experimental branches aswell - hawthorn and bay. I have never tried forcing either of these before so it will be interesting to see the results. Bay is so aromatic it would be a wonderful addition to spring bouquets if it works. In Wales it is considered unlucky to bring hawthorn into the house - my maternal grandmother would'nt allow it at all. In my readings I have come across reference to Hawthorn as a "Witch tree" - that is a tree prefered by witches to live in. If you want to harvest you must first ask permission from the potentially resident witch. This maybe the origin of the notion that hawthorn is bad luck.
Naturally, I forgot to ask permission yesterday. Hmmm

Now the workshop is full of buckets of branches in various stages of growth. The challenge will be to get all the different species at the best stage of growth for making the spring bouquets for the PEI Garden Show, April 18 & 19. If pussywillows get too far advanced I can always remove from the water and bundle upside down to stop growth. I don't know if this approach will work for alder and hopefully figuring it out won't be necessary.

Today its back to the sewing machine with me.


  1. Sounds as though you came from a family where foraging was the norm. Just to have had discussions with one's grandmother about hawthorn and whether or not it can be brought into the house shows that all things natural were frequently topics of conversation. Although my own grandmother was poetic and loved nature, we certainly didn't have such discussions. Our upbringings sure make us who we are, don't they?

  2. Its true both sides of my family are natural foragers and I was taken on excursions into the countryside as long as I can remember. Very fortunate indeed.....