As the Scottish weather battles between seasons I’m on the hunt for signs that Spring is really on its way. There are three trees that signal the seasonal shift between March and May. Each one has folklore entangled in its growth and timely appearance of its blossom.
The Blackthorn, the Hawthorn and the Rowan are trees that blossom over the course of Spring. The appearance of these tiny white flowers tell not only of renewal for the tree, but for the life of magical spirits within. Trees are often seen as a gateway to different worlds.
Blackthorn is the first to blossom, usually in March. The delicate white flowers appear before the leaves. This tree stands out with its small blossoms but harsh right angled thorns, not an easy branch to collect! The leaves follow later in April. The sloes (the Blackthorn’s fruit) ripen throughout the summer. Although this is the first of the three to blossom; it is actually linked to the dark side of the year. It is associated with Samhain (1st November). Whereas the Hawthorn is connected to light, growth and the green maiden of Beltane. Perhaps its darker association isn’t that surprising: the blossom often tricks us into believing Spring has finally arrived. With an early appearance the Blackthorn will tell of many more bouts of cold and windy weather. My father, being a farmer, would often speak of a Blackthorn Winter: meaning the blossom indicated another cold spell to come.
The Hawthorn has a strong place in folklore. Never to be brought into the house until Beltane (1st May): it was seen as unlucky if used at any other time. The Hawthorn trees are full of green leaves (that arrive before the blossom) and white blossoms with pink centres. They appear by May, signalling an abundance of life and renewal. It is said that if you sit under a Hawthorn tree at Beltane you’ll be whisked off to the fairy underworld. Once there all your wishes will be granted. Garlands of the blossom were placed on houses and Maypoles for Mayday. The Hawthorn’s blossom is truly the start of the ‘light side’ of the year.
The Rowan tree is a tree of light and fire. Its heady (it has a distinctive scent) flowers appear much later in May. We have a Rowan tree in the garden but you’ll often find them amongst the glens in Scotland. Stark sentinels next to winding rivers and streams. This tree is considered a protection against enchantment, dark magic and illness. I don’t know if its from the folklore I’ve read. A subconscious seeping into my mind, but I can sense the magic from this tree. It was often placed over main doors and worn on clothes to ward off false enchantment. Perhaps it is the bright berries that draw people towards it. The Rowan berry has a small dimple opposite its stalk. It carries a tiny five pointed star or pentagram = the ancient symbol of protection.
Using Blossom as a Spring Guide
Whichever tree signals the seasonal shift for you, I find all three guide me towards the summer months. I love to see the Blackthorn, it is heartening to see the first tiny petals! Although it may mean another bought of cold, it is a sign that Spring is progressing. Then the joyous connection the Hawthorn trees bring with the celebrations of Beltane, visions of hand-fasting, young love and celebrations. Finally, the scent of a Rowan trees’ blossom in May/June and the buzzing of the bees. The final indication we should be experiencing warmer weather soon. Take a look at the overview below to enjoy your time line of blossoms this Spring.
Your Magical Blossom Filled Trees Overview
Who am I and why I love Scotland, folklore and beautiful textiles….
I’m Georgina! Wild Scotland devotee and hand weaver for Feather & Hay. I have a studio on the North East coast of Scotland.
My textiles are about connecting us to wild landscapes: inspired by places and stories in Scotland.
The designs focus on natural hues and I use high quality fibres such as Wool, Linen and Nettle. I like to work with traditional weave patterns creating timeless textiles with subtle embellishments. Many of my textiles have names and stories woven into them. Like the folklore told through words in stories, poetry and song the textiles aim to evoke a connection to this wild and rugged land. Read more.
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