‘Ne’er cast a clout til May is out’ was the bane of my life, as a small child growing up in the U.K. My Mum rigidly would abide by this rule, & so would not let me swim or even wear summer clothes until June. (Clouts in this case being clothes.) In fact there is some argument that the May in question is May flowers, otherwise known as Hawthorn, although I must admit it still seems most likely to be the month of May. I used to get so frustrated at being kept away from swimming that I would often feign slipping & falling into the water, arriving home dripping wet & blue lipped.

As I was looking up this phrase I solved another of life’s small mysteries, I have pondered on the old rhyme ‘Here we go gathering nuts in May’ thinking that in England there were no nuts around in May, apart from those ignoring the ‘clout’ rule & frolicking in the freezing seas! Apparently it’s ‘knots of May’ meaning little bunches of Hawthorn flowers.

May Flowers (shrink)

The whole point of this meandering introduction is that I have rediscovered the beautiful Hawthorn & become quite devoted to it’s ancient energy & powerful medicinal properties. Giles has cleared the the blackberries from around the base of a young tree that has self seeded in our gardens, & now it is standing tall & proud, wreathed in it’s lovely white flowers. There are a couple more big trees on the other side of the creek, one must be 10 metres high at least, & then as we walk the local roads we have seen more huge specimens. For some reason they have had a profound effect on me, perhaps a distant memory from my childhood, or some older ripple of recognition. The sense of antiquity & benign presence is very strong.

I have collected several basketfuls of knots of May, & made batches of hydrosol which I am taking for my heart arrhythmia, & I’ve spread some flowers out on trays in the drying caravan for later use. I have made a special effort to talk to the trees & thank them for their gifts. (Check out info on my blog about making Hawthorn fruit leather)

While I was trying to find out about Hawthorn hydrosol I found a beautiful website called whisperingearth.co.uk which has some beautiful images of the Hawthorn tree throughout the year.

Apart from communing with the May trees, we have been very busy in the gardens, we are about 2/3 of the way through weeding the herb/vege garden, mulching with cardboard & leaf mulch as we go, & most of the house gardens are pretty much tidy, wow!  Everything has erupted with great speed & vigour, the place is many shades of green, with Wisteria, Roses, Robinia , Lily of the Valley & other plants wafting sweet smells around the place.

Robinia Flowers (shrink) Wisteria (shrink)

We have planted all of our seed potatoes now, plus some of the staking & bush tomatoes, Chillies, Zucchini, Cucumbers, Basil, Sunflowers etc etc the greenhouse is still pretty full with more plants waiting to be planted out. The orchard is almost over the flowering time, except for the apples & pears, & hundreds of tiny fruit are showing already.  Have also included a photo of our first pick of Artichokes & a pick of Asparagus, I just love the way the textures & colours of these go together.

Asparagus & Artichokes (shrink)