Current Affairs , Gardening , social history , Travel

The first of 2015’s Giant Mistletoes, but will it be the best?

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Giant, pendant, but fake (obviously) mistletoes seem to be turning into a tradition, at least amongst corporate marketing teams and street decorators. In recent years there have many examples of these giant decorations – some stunning works of art (e.g. at RHS Harlow Carr back in 2008), some remarkable eye-catchers (e.g. Heathrow Airport in 2013) and some just plain tasteless (e.g Melbourne’s glow in the dark decorations in 2013, which looked as if was made of […]

Current Affairs , Gardening , Mistle Thrush , Mistletoe , Orchard , social history , Travel

Not-so-wild but fairly western mistletoe

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How far west can mistletoe grow in Britain? The main population is in the south-west English Midlands, overlapping into eastern-most Wales in Monmouthshire. But despite this being western-ish (this is definitely west of Britain’s geographic centre) it is not really a western plant, being quite rare in Devon and Cornwall, and in the rest of Wales. There are a few isolated populations, here and there, but they can be hard to find. And those odd populations may […]

Current Affairs , Gardening , Mistletoe , Orchard , Religion , social history , Travel

All Mistletoe’s Eve?

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All Hallows’ Eve, and the mistletoe is ripening… Not that it’s got anything to do with Halloween of course, other than being a mysterious plant, a symbol of pagan tradition and a portent of the dark winter months. Which is, I s‘pose, quite a lot. But with November dawning tomorrow we’ll soon be right back into mistletoe season. So I think it’s fair to say this is Mistletoe’s Eve too. Actually, mistletoe season never quite […]

Biodiversity , Current Affairs , Mistletoe , Orchard , Science , social history

The Mistletoe that’s also a Christmas Tree

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Australia has many varieties of mistletoe, valuable for contributing (directly and indirectly) to local biodiversity and also well-known for their Mistletoe Birds which specialise in spreading mistletoe seeds. But the oddest (and biggest) of them all is the Western Australian Christmas Tree – yes, that’s a tree, and it really is called a Christmas Tree – which is one of the few mistletoe species that’s adapted to parasitize its host’s roots, not its branches. So Nuytsia floribunda, […]

Biodiversity , Current Affairs , Mistletoe , Science

Mistletoe seeds dream of a Light Christmas

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Mistletoe seeds are peculiar. As, of course, is much of the rest of mistletoe’s biology. But the seeds are rarely talked about, and I thought I it was about time I wrote some notes on them here, not least as this is the time of year many people decide they want to grow their own. I’m talking largely about European Mistletoe, Viscum album, though some of the following may well apply to other species too. […]

Current Affairs , Mistletoe , social history

The Mistletoe Rustlers

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Mistletoe rustling is, even today, rife at this time of year – but it was once much more common. The huge popularity of mistletoe from the mid 19th to mid 20th centuries gave it a rather higher financial value than it has today. In 2012 I posted a newspaper cutting about one theft, in 1887, and since then I’ve come across many dozens of others, from the 1860s onwards. Here are a few examples – which […]

Current Affairs , Mistletoe , Orchard , Science

Mistletoe harvesting in the press

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There was an impressive feature in Saturday’s Telegraph on mistletoe harvesting, focussing on Guy and Jacqui Neath, who have a long-established business in Abberley (near Tenbury) supplying supermarkets with mistletoe. Their big customer this season is Marks & Spencer but they do supply many others. It’s not the first time they’ve featured in the press (they even appeared in comic strip form in Waitrose’s magazine a few years ago) but I thought this was a […]

Biodiversity , Current Affairs , Mistletoe , Orchard , Science

Mistletoe Auctions 2014

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The second of Tenbury Wells’ traditional three mistletoe auctions took place earlier today. At a new venue this year – Burford House Garden Store, just down the road from Tenbury itself. A refreshing change from the uninspiring windswept sites that have hosted the auctions in recent years – so well done to auctioneer Nick Champion getting the site agreed and to Burford House for allowing it. I just wish Nick would signpost the sales as […]

Biodiversity , Current Affairs , Food and Drink , Mistletoe , Religion , Science

Mistletoe Drones – silly and serious

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Today sees the first of the 2014 Tenbury Mistletoe Auctions – and I’m unable to be there. So instead here’s a story (two stories actually – a serious one and a silly one) about mistletoe drones. The Mistletoe Diary has covered mistletoe drone stories before, notably last year when some ‘interactive artists’ deployed a mistletoe-bearing drone in Union Square, San Francisco. This year reports of similar initiatives are coming in from all over the place. This […]

Current Affairs , Food and Drink , Mistletoe , Science , Travel

Mistletoe, Good Luck and War

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Earlier this month I contributed to a local WW1 exhibition with some documents and correspondence relating to my Great Uncle Clifford, who died in July 1918 as a Prisoner of War. He shipped to France on 2nd April and was immediately sent to serve in the trenches but on 27th May, after just 8 weeks at war, he was captured. Several official ‘I am a Prisoner of War’ postcards were sent home and a longer […]