Plant-Lore

Collecting the folklore and uses of plants

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Wesley’s tree

Date of the post: Posted on by royvickery |

 

Young English elm (Ulmus procera) in the grounds of the Museum of Methodism and Wesley’s House, City Road, London Borough of Islington, said to be a descendent of the tree under which John Wesley (1703-91), founder of Methodism, preached on one of his several visits to Stony Strafford, Buckinghamshire.

 

 

Hallowe’en decorations in Chelsea

Date of the post: Posted on by royvickery |

Window box decorated with plastic pumpkins (Cucurbita maxima) and artificial cobwebs for Hallowe’en, Pond Place, Chelsea, London, 18 October 2021.

Tree to commemorate the Great Storm

Date of the post: Posted on by royvickery |

 

On the night of Friday 16 October 1887 a great storm, which lasted for ‘four violent hours’ destroyed an estimated 250,000 trees in southeast England.  Following it the London Evening Standard launched an appeal which raised funds for many new trees to the planted, including an oak (Quercus robur) which was planted outside Charing Cross station, in the City of Westminster on the first anniversary of the storm.

 

Blackberries and Michaelmas

Date of the post: Posted on by royvickery |

The widespread and persistent belief that blackberries (Rubus fruticosus agg.) should not be eaten after a certain date, usually Michaelmas Day, 29 September, because then the devil spits or urinates on them seems strange to us who live in southern England.  Here blackberries are past their prime well before then, and the few remaining berries look untempting.

However, as the photograph here, taken at Long Clawson, Leicestershire, in the English Midlands, on 9 October 2021, shows further north blackberries are still succulent and worth gathering after Michaelmas Day.

Never forget – remembrance poppies

Date of the post: Posted on by royvickery |

Face mask, featuring poppies (Papaver rhoeas) and with the wording

Never forget                                  All gave some                              Some gave all

source unknown, abandoned in Cavendish Road, Balham, London Borough of Lambeth, 14 October 2021.

37th Vale Conker Championship

Date of the post: Posted on by royvickery |

The 37th Vale [of Belvoir] Conker Championship was held on the Pringle (village green) in Long Clawson, Leicestershire, on the afternoon of Saturday 9 October 2021, starting at 1.30 p.m., on what could be described as a perfect autumn afternoon.

The Championship is very much a village event with proceeds going Long Clawson School and Village Hall.  Six podiums were set up on a roped off area of the green, leaving room for a few stalls – mainly of the tombola type – along two sides.  Competitors were charged a £5.00 entry fee (£2.00 for children under 14), and conkers (seeds of horse chestnut, Aesculus hippocastanum) were supplied, each contestant selecting one from bags in which they were placed with only their strings exposed.  There were no separate classes for men and women, or boys and girls; the adult finals were between two men, and the children’s finalists were two girls.

The finals took place at about 4 p.m., after which the finalists had chains of conkers, and the adult winner was presented with a silver cup.  Thereafter the raffle was drawn, and people drifted home.

Honor Oak and One Tree Hill

Date of the post: Posted on by royvickery |

Honor Oak is an area of south London, partly in the borough in Lewisham and partly in Southwark.  The area gets its name from a oak (Quercus robur) tree under which Queen Elizabeth I is said to have rested while a-maying on May Day 1602.  According to legend the Queen intended to bestow a knighthood, but was so befuddled after her lunch that she knighted the tree, rather than the intended recipient.  However, information boards placed at  entrances to the area state ‘there is no truth’ in this.

By late in the nineteenth century the area was cleared of woodland, leaving only the Honor Oak.  Thus it became known as One Tree Hill.  The Oak was struck by lightning in 1888.  In 1905 the area became a public park, and a replacement oak was planted on the day of its opening, 7 August.  Initially it was managed as a formal park, but later nature was allowed to take over, so that the area is now considered to be an important wildlife site.

Photographed October 2021.

Dr Johnson’s oak

Date of the post: Posted on by royvickery |

In addition to the mulberry and willow trees associated with Samuel Johnson (1709-84) and discussed elswhere on this website, there are also vague rumours of an oak (Quercus) associated with him on the Lambeth part of Tooting Common, near the junction of Tooting Bec and Garrads Road.

A rather irregular circle of lime (Tilia europaea) trees is said to mark where the tree once stood.  It is thought that the ‘mighty tree’, the trunk of which remained standing until 1919, was in fact an English elm (Ulmus procera), not an oak.

Presumably Johnson enjoyed, or sat under, the tree when was visiting his friends Henry and Hester Thrale, at nearby Streatham Park.

Photographed September 2021.

Battle to win world pumpkin record

Date of the post: Posted on by royvickery |

According to The Times of 1 October 2021 there is rivalry between Italy and Belgium to try and achieve the world record for the biggest [heaviest] pumpkin (Cucurbita maxima).  Stefano Cutrupi, a Tuscan farmer, produced a fruit weighing 1,226kg, thus winning Italy’s La Zuccone championship the previous weekend.  However, Mario Vangeel, from Kasterlee, Belgium, where  a ‘famous pumpkin festival’ is held every year, hopes his pumpkin will exceed Cutrupi’s in weight, when entered at the world championship, in Germany, on 10 October.  Vangeel’s pumpkin weighs 1,020kg, and he is confident that it will put on extra weight before the championship.

Cutrupi took the record from Belgian Matthias Willemigins, who set it at 1,190kg in 2016. He has also won the world title for the last four years.

The winner at world championship to be held in Ludwihsburg will win ∉12,000. Vangell said, ‘When the championship is over, we will hollow out the pumpkin.  The seed we will keep to sell because that will be worth something’.

The Wilberforce Oak, c.1902

Date of the post: Posted on by royvickery |

Postcard of the Wilberforce Oak (see post of 30 September 2021), produced in c.1902.

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