The Monday Photo
It’s May, and the hedgerows are decorated with great sprays of small white flowers. It is May blossom, the flowers of the hawthorn tree.
The hawthorn is the most common small tree in much of England, and it’s all because of sheep. When the great open fields of medieval times were enclosed for sheep farming, the farmers planted countless miles of hawthorn saplings on the edges of fields. Once grown, the spiky trees made a very effective stock-proof hedge.
Even today, you can see Hawthorn trees everywhere in hedgerows, and they are still used to make hedges. You can buy 105 plants at once if you want to; that’s enough to make a single row hedge 85 feet, or 26 metres long.
A Hawthorn will revert to its natural tree form given a chance, and livestock will be able to breach the hedge. That’s where the hedgelayer comes in, laying the hedge by cutting the stem near the base and bending it over, forming a thick and bushy hedge that animals can’t get through.
In May in North Bucks you can easily spot the hawthorn trees as they present their May blossom in hedgerows everywhere.
The Hawthorn supports hundreds of insect species. It provides nectar and pollen for bees.
Dormice eat the flowers, and birds nest safely in the dense foliage. I would plant a hawthorn in my garden today if I could find enough space for it.
Crataegus Monogyna is
the latin name for Hawthorn.