Mistletoe Market Miscellany

Definitely an action-packed mistletoe day today. (See pics posted below) Off to the Tenbury Wells Market, penultimate one of the season – and possibly ever. Interviews with BBC R4, news about the market’s future, general chat with buyers, meeting with Masaya (see yesterday) who’s driven over from Kew, and an unexpected meeting with Nick Wheeldon, mistletoe-propagator. Plus news about the new Tenbury Wells English Mistletoe and Holly Festival – launched by the Town Council. And news of a BBC TV News interest in the market etc.

Far too much for a quick blogging session. But here goes anyway (in summary – could write loads today):

Yes this was the penultimate mistletoe and holly auction – but the site has not been bought by a supermarket after all – it will be owned by William Chase, of Tyrrells Crisps – and that’s an entirely different situation. More on this in later blogs – but there could, just could, be some continuation on the site.

Nick Champion, the auctioneer, is determined that whilst this could be the end for the site – the auction will survive – even if it has to be in a field next year, he says. So there.

BBC R4 are there by arrangement – more details on what for and broadcast schedule later – but an interesting variety of interviews with Nick the auctioneer, several buyers, Nick the propagator, me, etc. Including an interlude in a mistletoe-rich orchard a few miles away on the Teme (selected by me earlier).

It’s Masaya’s first visit – and the sheer quantity of mistletoe must be a huge contrast to his seedlings at Kew – we discuss these, and the mysterious other mistletoe he has discovered there (see yesterday’s blog) – more on that soon…

Nick Wheeldon, the mistletoe grower of Lincolnshire, and author of Grow Your Own Mistletoe (available from www.mistle.co.uk) is here to buy some berried stock for his berry business. It’s the first time we’ve met (though we’ve emailed) and it’s good to meet at last – two mistletoe enthusiasts together – a rare event (three if you count Masaya – but I’ve lost him in the crowd and we don’t ever meet as a threesome).

Am surprised, and delighted, to be approached by a group (including one wearing mayoral chains) sporting mistletoe buttonholes and handing out a card announcing the launch of the Tenbury Wells English Mistletoe and Holly Festival. This is a local council initiative – the market is under threat, and the town is responding. This is part of their heritage – and they are THE centre for mistletoe. The Festival is a new idea, aiming to keep the market here in Tenbury, and to emphasise the town’s importance for mistletoe. I compare them to Goldthwaite, Texas – which claims to be the Mistletoe Capital of the USA and suggest they should claim similar for the UK. At present they are limited to crowning a ‘Mistletoe Queen’ – and seeking publicity for their cause, but I reckon they’re just in time, and will need to do a lot more for next season. More to follow on this….

Meanwhile, a BBC TV News story is simmering – more on this next week. But media today should be enough to be going on with – as well as Radio 4 there are photographers from the Telegraph and the Times – so watch out for their coverage soon – probably the weekend issues. And a reminder that BBC Gardeners World are due to cover the market this year – but using footage filmed last year – when the drama over the market was unknown. So when you watch the Gardener’s World piece over Christmas, reflect on how quickly news can get out of date…

Will post some photos from today below – scroll down to view… and click to enlarge.

Mystery at Kew?

Checked Mail on Sunday for the mistletoe article (see yesterday’s blog) but not there so either in Saturday’s paper or delayed until next week. That would be more appropriate – as it is December by then, and mistletoe articles in November always seem a bit premature.

But i decide to check yesterday’s paper anyway – and check the daily mail website. Looks like the only way to access yesterday’s paper is to buy a week’s access to the e-edition – which gives full access to the whole paper (for a week), as published – and all the back issues… So I pay my £4.99 and soon realise I’ve been conned (I think). The mistletoe piece would be in the Weekend supplement – but despite easily getting access to the main Saturday paper, there’s no obvious (or actual?) access the supplement – shome mistake shurely? I should complain but won’t until this time next week – give ’em the benefit of the doubt for a few days…. and see how readable these e-editions are, have been tempted to try the Guardian version for ages…

Meanwhile I get an email from Masaya Tatebayashi, a Japanese student at Kew who’s been introducing mistletoe to the garden as part of the London Mistletoe Action Plan (http://www.lbp.org.uk/03action_pages/ac22_mistletoe.html). His introductions are germinating nicely, though with high mortality. This isn’t unusual – only last Friday I spent a disappointing hour or so up a tree in a (secret) London location looking at low survival rates in some of the other mistletoe plantings. More on London plantings later…

But Masaya also has other news – he’s found an established mistletoe plant at Kew – but it looks very odd. I think I know what it is… but will reserve judgement until we find out more – watch this space…

Mistletoe Media

Travelled up to Ironbridge today, for the same Council meeting of the Association of Industrial Archaeaology reported at start of last year’s mistletoe blog. As then, lots of mistletoe en route, and just as expected – but this time I had a mission in mind as I looked at it. I need some locations for a Radio 4 mistletoe interview next week – and will be starting out from the Shropshire/Worcestershire boundary area.

Unfortunately I was in too much of a rush to get to the meeting to suss out any new sites, and it was already dark when coming back. So I’ll need to use favoured locations from the past – which is ok, but it’s good to have some genuine sense of discovery when doing broadcast media and so a new site would have been better… Will need to make some calls to some orchard owners to set up possible visits.

And, I was so busy I forgot to buy the Daily Mail – where I think Monty Don was doing a piece on mistletoe growing, including using one of my picture. But maybe I got it wrong and it’s in Sunday’s edition.

Media interest so far this year has varied – mostly requests for pictures – from specialist magazines as wide-ranging as ‘Garden News’ and ‘Everything French’! And the Daily Mail – as above. Plus the radio enquiries – some local stations and the Radio 4 request for next week.

Today I’ve even had a picture request from Oz – from a writer covering a new mistletoe species from the Loranthaceae, and asking whether I have a good pic of the Australian Mistletoe bird. I don’t but do have a Gould League Badge with the Mistletoe Bird on it (will post a picture below) which is the closet I’ve got to Australian mistletoes. Must get out there next year. Some of the audience at my talk on Wednesday were going out soon, and we got talking about the various Australian mistletoe species – which include the infamous (amongt mistletoe anoraks only) West Australian Christmas Tree – Nuytsia floribunda – which (don’t get confused by the name) is a ground rooting species – except it isn’t – it’s simply parasitic on the host tree roots instead of branches. All rather confusing really.

More mistletoe talk

Yesterday evening gave a msitletoe presentation to Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust – a good, satisfying evening – and a bit of a contrast to my last presentataion to a GWT audience – just 2 weeks ago.

That was on canal restoration – a debate meeting jointly with the Gloucestershire Naturalists Society on the wildlife pros and cons of the local canal restoration (www.britishwaterways.co.uk/cotswolds). Reception there started with mistrust, and ended with a bit of it too. The issues are complex – though fairly easy in the early stages of the project where there are relatively straightforward ecological issues, solutions and enhancements. But it’s the later stages (some years off still) where problems arise – how to restore a long dry canal passing through an ancient woodland SSSI, full of ptotected dormice, without affecting SSSI status, woodland or the dormice? Or how to restore an inaccessible 2.5 mile tunnel, 200 years old, with significant roof falls and an interesting and protected bat population? All could be solved with research, over several years – and though we have the several years, we haven’t yet quite got the funding or commitment to do the research…

But I digress, as usual. What about the mistletoe do? Well, it seemed to go down well, lots of enthusiasm and questions. But I try to fit a lot in – biology, mistletoe worldwide, customs, myths, medicine, harvesting, growing your own, trade, contrasts with harvest and trade in the States, art nouveau, tacky Christmas art, conservation in UK, distribution in UK, national survey results etc. A bit demanding for me and the audience in 45 mins or so.

Oddly enough the Gloucestershire Naturalists Society have never asked me to do the mistletoe talk – only canals. When I suggested mistletoe to their meetings chap a few years back he said he couldn’t see how just one species could fill the time – I didn’t push the point, there wasn’t time….