I’ve been most remiss in my tree following posts, having missed June and July altogether. At this time of year the hawthorn is largely ignored, I walk around the corner of the house and under its branches to reach the compost bins or on the way to the front garden, usually focused on the task at hand. I rarely give it much thought.

approaching the hawthorn

Which I suppose is exactly why I am so glad I picked it for the tree following meme, or I would never have noticed that the berries which replaced the long-gone blossom have started to colour.

hawthorn berries starting to colour

One of the branches has healthy growth up to half way, and then is clearly dead, but I don’t want to prune it off as it is covered in lichens, moss and spiders webs. Sorry, I was totally unable to capture the delicate tracery of the webs thanks to the glare of the sun.

moss on hawthorn twig

dead branch on hawthorn

lichens on hawthorn twig

When looking at all the small leaf clusters on the main trunk and larger branches I noticed this remnant from bad pruning, looking for all the world like a socket, don’t you think?


At first glance the foliage still looks bright green, at least when seen in summer sunshine against a blue sky.

hawthorn leaves in bright sunshine

Closer inspection reveals what I assume is mildew, presumably from stress due to the dry spell. After all, this hawthorn is not exactly growing in idea conditions, crammed up against paving and our house wall on one side, and surrounded by moisture-hungry willows on the other side.

mildew on hawthorn leaves

leaf damage on hawthorn

Actually, looking at it again, I don’t think it is mildew – some sort of deficiency perhaps?

The park next door has been getting a bit of a spruce-up. There is a project in progress to create an easier circular path that takes in the park and the neighbouring Community Woodland. Consequently I no longer get muddy feet walking around the other side of our fence to see the hawthorn from the park, and I can get much closer to the hawthorn itself thanks the the undergrowth having been strimmed. It will be interesting to see how long it takes for all that undergrowth to regenerate!

new path in park

strimmed area in park

I do like being able to get a good photograph of the hawthorn from the park, it has a rather pleasing shape, and it suggests that even my hawthorn has been somewhat sculpted by the wind – the beach, sea and northerlies are to the left as you look at this photo:

my hawthorn from the park side

Mind you, it is nothing like as extreme as we see on the hawthorns growing up on the cliffs near here.

wind-sculpted hawthorn

You may remember a certain amount of earnest discussion as to whether the ivy that grows up my hawthorn is something I should be getting rid of in case it damages the tree. The base is still clothed in ivy, but if you look further up, you can now see dead stems and leaves.

dead ivy on hawthron

Not my doing! Our neighbour was delighted when we pruned various shrubs to give him back a glimpse of the sea from the step down in to his kitchen. We were delighted to do this for him, he lost his wife last year, and this small glint of sea, visible again after many years, thrilled him. He later asked for permission to trim off a couple of bits of hawthorn that were still getting a little in the way, and we gave it. It turns out that he is of the “ivy is evil” brigade, and thought he was doing us a huge favour by also cutting through the ivy growing up the main trunk! Ah well, it will be intriguing to see how long it takes for the ivy to reclaim that space, though in the mean time the dead foliage is rather unattractive, and too high to get at easily to remove. Besides, I assume that all manner of interesting bugs and microbes are having a ball up there in the middle of the decay, so I will leave them to it!

Do pop over to Lucy’s blog and read about other trees, all kinds of trees, from all over the world. Better yet, join in! It is a fascinating meme, and I love the way it has made me look much closer at an easily overlooked and “common” tree in my garden.

48 thoughts on “Tree Following: My Hawthorn in August

  1. Round here, it’s not just the leaves of hawthorn trees which seem to be in trouble. The haws look pretty manky too. Many were beaten off the trees in recent heavy rain. It lasted less than two hours and is about the only watering we’ve had in ages. (We’re back to heat again now.) But it was pretty fierce while it lasted. The berries which fell to the ground were brown – not partly green, partly red as I would have expected.
    I think our trees are a little ahead of yours – there are lots of almost-completely red haws.
    It’s sad about your ivy. Funny how people assume we all have the same ideas about all plants. There are masses I count as flowers which others would count as weeds and would be bound to pull out on my behalf if I gave them a chance!

    1. Hi Lucy, so many people see ivy as a problem to be got rid of, it makes me sad too, but this ivy will be back, I’m sure. Sounds as if your local trees have had much more stressful conditions than ours, even the cliff side hawthorns still look to be thriving. My newly planted birches look a tad distressed thanks to dry spells, but generally everything is doing quite well, in the woods and in my garden.

  2. Hi Janet,
    My Hawthorns seem OK here, but they are still only small. Generally they’re attacked by some sort of ermine moth though. However, I think my lovely Russian Dwarf Almond might have something :( Hope your Hawthorn is OK and it’s nothing serious. There’s nothing more beautiful imo than the first Hawthorn leaves in spring as they’re such a vibrant green I always look forward to seeing.

    Ah yes, the ‘ivy is evil brigade’. No matter how many times I try to tell my parents how important Ivy is, it falls on deaf ears. Especially considering it used to cover a hideously nasty wall in their garden, which is basically just breeze blocks (don’t know if the fall belongs to them or the house behind; the other walls are gorgeous old limestone). I know which I’d rather look at!

    1. I’m sorry to hear about the trials and tribulations of your trees, particularly your almond. Why on earth would anybody remove ivy from a blockwork wall?!

  3. Do you get baby hawthorns growing underneath like we do?

    I was worried that our neighbour was going to cut down an ivy growing from his side of our boundary and clothing the fence on our side with a vibrant green. I heard him hacking about a week ago and we have still greenery so I am hopeful,

    1. Hi Sue, no sign of any baby hawthorns on our side of the fence, and I think any on the other side would be smothered by the brambles, but I’ll keep any eye out. Hope you manage to keep your ivy on the fence.

  4. Oh dear, hawthorns beginning to turn red? How the summer is rushing on. I didn’t, realise you live right next to the park, how nice.
    Funny that your neighbour thought you would rather look at dead ivy than a nice green living one.

    1. Hi Chloris, I refuse to think about autumn, way too early! I don’t think our neighbour thought beyond getting rid of the evil ivy, though in fairness he doesn’t mind it on his own boundary fence, and recognises that the birds love it.

  5. It’s probably not healthy for the tree but leaving the dead branch is not such a bad idea as having moss and lichen growing on it is quite attractive too. And that remnant of bad pruning reminds of where cameras tends to be placed on the Hunger Games film.

    Nice gesture to let your neighbour have some of his way with the hawthorn. Okay he may have cut off the ivy as well but hopefully all the dead bits will blow away in the months to come.

    1. I love the moss and lichen, and I am intrigued to see what happens if I just leave it rather than pruning out dead growth. I know exactly what you mean about the hunger games, maybe I should get a bow…

  6. Oh I do like that windswept hawthorne complete with sea view Janet. I can imagine it featuring in a classic novel. You sound like a lovely and most considerate neighbour. Hope that the ivy responds to having an unexpected haircut and makes it way back up to where it was.

    1. Hi Anna, I love wind-sculpted trees, we have a good selection around here, and they do look wonderfully moody. I’m sure the ivy will be back! It was still worth the loss to see M’s joy at the view.

  7. Oh my–the windswept Hawthorne along the coast is amazing! Yours certainly has lots of character, too! I’m always fascinated by lichens and mosses, as well. Especially when you really study them–the intricate patterns are mesmerizing. I’m glad you have a pleasant path in your park next door, now. :)

    1. Hi Beth, the path is a great improvement, makes it much easier for parents with kids in buggies. I love the wind-shaped trees, we have a lot of them, even quite a way inland, as the island is fairly flat.

  8. I think the local council must have been shamed by your lovely garden to upgrade the park next door. Shame on you Janet – you only have to go to the bins to check on your Hawthorn – we do not notice what is under our noses evidently :) The Pixie cup lichens can at least gather what rain does arrive in this dry summer – ( Donna is also featurning her tree’s lichen this month). p.s. hope your neighbour is not one of those ‘give an inch, take a mile’ folk!

    1. Hi Laura, I’d like to think so, but until I clear the other side of our fence of brambles and bindweed, the park approach remains a little on the wild side, and it will be a few years before my front garden could be considered for the annual competition! I know, I know, if it wasn’t for Lucy’s meme I would remain ignorant of the wonderful lichens, not to mention the changing haws…

  9. Lovely to see your Hawthorn again (with BERRIES!) … and also that wind-stunted one on the cliff. I’m no tree expert, but just wondered if the mottling on the leaves could be caused by a mining insect?

    1. Hi Caroline, hadn’t thought of a mining insect, worth considering. I’m looking forward to seeing the berries fully turn.

  10. An interesting tree following post and photos. It’s surprising at how much is going on once it’s looked at in closer detail. I will have to see if my hawthorn has any berries yet. xx

    1. Hi Flighty, it has really surprised me, particularly this month, I thought I would struggle to find anything interesting to talk about, just goes to show, worth looking more closely.

  11. I like the way it bends over the fence, and the one on the cliffs is wonderful! I must take a look at the hawthorns near us…. you are right, they tend to get overlooked after flowering.

    1. Hi Cathy, I always think there is a certain yearning to how the hawthorn leans towards the freedom of the park! Poor thing.

    1. Hi Donna, I really enjoyed your post about lichens. Hawthorns are such tough trees to survive right on the edge of the cliffs like that, I love the dramatic silhouettes they form.

  12. Wind sculpted hawthorns are gorgeous. We have lots up here on the Downs above the sea. Actually I’ve planted four on my front lawn and suppose they’ll end up shaped strongly by the wind roaring in off the Channel. Pity about the ivy. Dave

    1. Hi Dave, they are, aren’t they, you have to admire their tenacity too. I like the idea of living sculpture in your front lawn.

  13. Hi Janet – nice to see the close ups of your hawthorn and that view of the whole tree from the park. Also the wind sculpted one – round here they are either trimmed into hedges or single rounded and shapely trees in the hedge. Very little of it left in our hedge though, but I must go and inspect the pink one we planted and see if there might be some berries coming.

    1. Hi Cathy, I know hawthorns will take tight pruning, but I much prefer them in their natural state, particularly up on the cliffs.

  14. I think your Hawthorn was planted courtesy of the blackbirds, like ours that keep popping up all over the garden, I’m just having to think, how many hawthorns do I really need? our berries aren’t starting to colour yet, so you are ahead of us there. Pity about the ivy being chopped, but it will probably grow again, it is such a tough plant!

    1. Hi Pauline, the hawthorn being planted by birds makes more sense than it being placed there by deliberate human hands. I’m sure the ivy will be back. As to how many hawthorns, difficult, they make such wonderful hedges/features for wildlife, I wish I had more space. I’d love a mixed native hedge, but it would be at the expense of so many other plants that I love. Choices, choices…

  15. You have reminded me that I have not done my tree following blog either. It is good to see that things are happening even though you thought they weren’t. I suspect my tree might be the same. Must get out there and really look!

    1. I love the way this meme reminds me to actually take the time to look at things like my hawthorn, I miss so much.

  16. Lovely post, and what a good tree to pick. I do love the shapes the hawthorns make – there are some spectacular new near me, and strangely not a one in or even near my garden. Keep an eye on those fruits – a couple of years ago I put some in my autumn jelly, and it was extra delicious….

    1. Oooh, berries in jelly, worth bearing in mind. Assuming they aren’t all blown off the tree in this wind! Its too early for autumn, I’m sulking.

  17. I missed the tree following yet again … tut, tut. In fairness, there’s more happening in the hedgerows and on the heath at this time of year so I’ll have to choose my tree more carefully next year. There are so many haws ready for picking at the moment that I’m thinking of making a Haw Sauce, just to try. We have bullaces almost ready for picking, elderberries and blackberries – oh yes, and rowan berries! I just need to source some crab apples and the jam making can begin!
    You’re leaning tree reminds me of the shrubs on the beach where my parents live – they make the most extraordinary wind blown shapes. And I think your hawthorn leaves are stressed; definitely not a leaf miner as they make very definite pathways between the leaf cuticles.

    1. Hi Caro, sounds as if you are going to be rather busy! I love wind-sculpted plants, though my fil is most distressed at the idea that my newly planted rowan might end up growing at an angle thanks to the wind! Well, that and the way I insist on staking trees right down low so that they can get blown about without being blown out of the ground! It does waft around most excitedly in the gales…

  18. I loe the sculptural shapes that hawthorns assume when battling against the elements. They are one of my favourite trees, yet, I just take them for granted in the garden, because, I suppose, they are so reliable!

    1. Hi Jane, that’s exactly it, I notice the windswept versions on the cliffs, but until now have largely ignored my own. I like the way that following my hawthorn has caused me to notice other less dramatic versions when I am out and about too. It seems to be acting as a sort of one person hawthorn rehabilitation programme.

  19. What a tough tree! I’m not familiar with hawthorns. Do birds eat the berries? How wonderful that your pruning has such a positive effect on your neighbor.

    1. It really is, I’ve seen it growing straight out of the cliffs near here, though it is then more small shrub than tree… Yes, the birds love the berries, in fact the whole thing is a magnet for wildlife. I’ve read that in the UK it is the best tree to plant to attract wildlife, from small invertebrates up through birds to small mammals attracted by the smaller critters.

  20. lovely to see an update on your Hawthorn Janet, it is an interesting shape, I love the way you consider the natural wildlife, nice red berries to come as well, Frances

    1. Hi Frances, I love the way the wind sculpts the hawthorns around here. The berries are ripening nicely, but the birds seem to eat them as soon as they get to a nice rich colour!

  21. I am also fond of the Hawthorn Janet. Years ago, I was told that lichen growing on the branches of a tree was a sign of uncontaminated air. Our Hawthorn also had a lot of lichen and the tree was at the bottom of the garden right next to the very busy dual carriageway.

    1. Hello Alistair, I was told the same thing about lichen, it seems we may have been mislead…

    1. Hi Lucy, thank you for checking, OK(ish), just failing to keep up with anything very well at the moment, but I have managed to squeeze a September tree following post in just under the wire…

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