Photo by Timo C. Dinger on Unsplash
photo of hawthorn flowers
Photo by Timo C. Dinger on Unsplash

This is the time, according to Moon Gardeners, to plant and sow plants that develop below ground. So rhubarb and garlic, fruit trees, bushes , bare-root plants and hedging plants.

Many plants can be used for hedges but hawthorn is the most common. It can be planted as bare-root from Autumn to Spring, so January is as good at time as any. It can also be grown from the seeds from its red berries. But this takes 18 months to achieve. Interspersed along the hedge should be trees – either trees for timber, or crab-apples or pear-stocks. Trees were also useful as markers. Before modern surveys property would be delineated by ancient trees. Hedges could be quickly moved, trees couldn’t.

As John Worlidge said in 1697

‘And first, the White-thorn is esteemed the best for fencing; it is raised either of Seeds or Plants; by Plants is the speediest way, but by Seeds where the place will admit of delay, is less charge, and as succesful, though it require longer time, they being till the Spring come twelvemonth ere they spring out of the Earth; but when they have past two or three years, they flourish to admiration.’

Systema Agriculturae 1697

Hawthorn produces white flowers in Spring, and it is one of the great pagan fertility plants, its flowers forming the garlands on May Eve. One of the chemicals in its essence is the same as one given out in decay of flesh so it has been, in folklore, also associated with death and is not to be brought into the house.

Hawthorn is an oasis for insects, mammals and migrating birds (who eat the berries). It is a good wood for burning, and for making tool-handles, veneers and cabinets. Its a lovely plant for May, and it is often called May, or the May Flower or May Tree and also whitethorn. It has many medicinal benefits according to herbalists. The berries are called ‘haws’ hence hawthorn. For more on this look at https://whisperingearth.co.uk.

For the plant https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk

Worlidge has a calendar discussing the farming year. This is the beginning of the discussion of January.

This Moneth is the rich mans charge, and the poor mans misery; the cold like the days increase, yet qualified with the hopes and expectations of the approaching Spring: The Trees, Meadows and Fields are now naked, unless cloathed in white, whilest the Countryman sits at home, and enjoys the fruit of his past labours, and contemplates on his intended Enterprises. Now is welcom a cup of good Cider, or other excellent Liquors, such that you prepared the Autumn before; moderately taken, it proves the best Physick.

John Worlidge in Systema Agriculturae, 1697

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