Last spring was very stormy and the wind-chill factor was incredibly low. This meant that everything in the Pleasure Grounds and the Walled Garden were scorched by salt laden wind off the Irish Sea. Lots of our trees and shrubs looked awful, burnt and brown on the East side. Once these trees and shrubs put on their annual growth spurt, the new greenery covered most of the damage. Now we worry that the same thing will happen this year. So here I’m looking into fleece we’ve used to protect the flowers that are just beginning to open. It wound around the crown so those tiny white flowers will become berries.
Our ancestors were very fond of the Blackthorn. As you can see from this ironic poem from the very early 19th century, adulteration of food and drink is not a modern problem. A considerable amount of Port was really Sloe Gin and the leaf of the May can be dried to make a passable Bohea – black Chinese tea.
“China and Porto, now farwell;
Let others buy what you’ve to sell.
Your port and your Bohea;
For we’ve our native Sloe divine,
Whose fruit yields all our Port Wine,
Whose leaves make all our Tea.”