Holy Shrub

Ever since my three hawthorn bushes have grown from tiny seedlings to a massive part of my wild hedge, I have understood why this plant used to be sacred. Not because of its value as a drug for heart diseases and all other sorts of illnesses (in Germany the flowers are still used in teas against low blood pressure; and some people make jam from the berries which contain quite a bit of vitamin C — although I have never bothered with that). The true reason for our ancestors venerating hawthorn trees is that anybody who gets too close is punished immediately by long sharp thorns hidden between the leaves (so there must be some powerful god in there — at least that’s my personal opinion).
Even though that part of the hedge is left pretty much to itself, once a year I need to cut the hawthorn so that the neighbouring haw tree and the buddleia have some room to breathe. This is one of the rare occasions that I wear garden gloves, although I still haven’t found any that keep off the thorns successfully. Even the thick leather ones from my husband are pierced through so that when work is done I have to operate the remnants out of my hands with a pin — a fairly painful procedure.
Nevertheless I wouldn’t want to miss this shrub in my garden. As their nest is well protected within the thorns, a pair of whitetroats breed there regularly. I also love the intensive smell of the cream-coloured flours in May as well as the bright red berries in September.


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