Late again – though not as late as last month, and hey, three months in a row! I am loving watching my hawthorn through the year, thanks to Lucy and her highly addictive meme. Though to be honest, I wasn’t expecting much from my hawthorn this month, I rather assumed it would be in that awkward, in-between, not quite autumn but rather scruffy stage.But as ever, I found myself discovering new things about this very unassuming little tree. Firstly, that there is still a smattering of berries, shining out against the backdrop of the park trees.

A smattering of berries on a hawthorn

I had terrible trouble finding a time to take photos when it wasn’t pouring with rain (a welcome change, given how dry the past few months have been), so I wound up dealing with wind and too-bright sun instead. So, all my attempts at more berry close-ups were stymied, but you can begin to see the bones of the hawthorn emerging as the first leaves are shed.

Gnarly hawthorn branch

I love the gnarly architecture of the branches, all those lumps and bumps, decorated here and there with lichens and moss. One of the things that is becoming more noticeable as the year turns is the way the weather has shaped the tree. The north side has noticeably fewer leaves than the south side:

north side of hawthorn
south side of hawthorn

The area of the park near out house has undergone considerable clearance this summer, in readiness for the “Wales in Bloom” judging. It has made taking photos of the tree from the other side far easier, though I am sure the brambles will be back soon enough. The overall shape of the tree is much clearer from this side, and the silhouette against the blue sky already begins to stand out, though there are still plenty of leaves.

silhouette of wind-sculpted hawthorn

Interestingly, the hawthorn seems to have survived the dry summer far better than the surrounding sycamores, all of which have been shedding shrivelled, burnt-looking leaves for weeks now. By contrast, the hawthorn is only just beginning to lose leaves, and those leaves look as if they might give some autumn colour before dropping too. Slight hints of yellowing, hard to capture in the glare.

slightly yellowing hawthorn leaves

If this tree-following has taught me anything it is to be more observant of things around and about my tree, not just the tree itself. And the story of my hawthorn has become the story of the ivy that accompanies it too. Plenty of fresh growth on the ivy at the base of the tree, so as expected, it will shrug off the enthusiastic “pruning” of my neighbor!

new ivy growth

Not all new growth around my hawthorn is so welcome, although I have to admit that the leaves, in and of themselves, are rather attractive.

bindweed on hawthorn

Bindweed. A thug, and one I have failed, dismally, to check this year. It swarms over the fence from the park and entwines itself around everything, reaching out long tendrils into the borders – and up the hawthorn. I need to be more vigilant.

I did wonder if this is how my own hawthorn began its life here in my garden though:

Hawthorn berry lying at foot of tree

So that’s my hawthorn in October. I am hoping that it will colour up during the rest of the month, I wonder if it will still have leaves come November? Do check out Lucy’s tree-following post for links to more posts about trees, trees of all sorts, all over the world, doing whatever trees do in October…

50 thoughts on “Tree following: Pursuing my hawthorn in to October

    1. I rather like a leaning tree, I’m wondering whether the trees I have planted in the front garden will form distinctively windswept shapes. I admire the perfect adaptation of bindweed through gritted teeth…

    1. Indeed! Hopefully plenty of berries to keep them going through the winter.

  1. Nice post on your tree, there is something about a Hawthorn tree, a bit like the Oak, old and wise looking, standing up to all the elements. Some of the Haw trees are ether still covered in berries or non !
    Amanda x

    1. Hi Amanda, yes, they both have gnarly character, don’t they, a bit like a really good wrinkly face on an old man or woman, not that we are supposed to enjoy such things any more…

  2. Hi Janet,

    I’m not sure whether to think it’s been a good berry year or whether the birds have plentiful other foods and that’s why you still have some berries?
    Saying that, my Cotoneasters and Pyracanthas still have berries, but then I spend far too much on seed for the birds and the berries often don’t go unless it snows and the blackbirds begin to eat them.

    I never have Hawthorn berries here – probably because I cut mine to a hedge. However I do seem to get babies growing on my tier in the nice ‘nursery’ bark chippings. They must get here via the birds, I assume and I’ve been saving some to take with me when I (eventually, if ever) move.

    1. Hi Liz, I don’t know either, i think has been a really good year for fruit and berries, judging by the raspberries, but certainly there are plenty of berries around for the birds at the moment. I like the sound of your hedge nursery, I hope you get to move somewhere lovely that you can plant it.

  3. An interesting, and informative post, and terrific pictures.
    I really enjoy reading about your hawthorn as it’s so different to the one on my plot. xx

    1. Hi Flighty, that’s one of the things I love about Lucy’s meme, even when people are posting about the same trees, they are so different in the different areas and circumstances.

  4. I’ve been learning so much about Hawthorns from these posts! I’ve never had one on my property. As you say, the “gnarliness” of them is very appealing. A kid could hide in there and be happy! I do worry a bit about the English Ivy climbing up your special tree. Here in Portland–where we are known for our trees, Rhodies and Roses, ivy is actually outlawed if you can believe it. The nurseries are not allowed to sell it. The reason is that is will eventually starve a tree if left to crawl all over it. I know it sounds extreme, but Google it. We have so much English Ivy here that teams of people from Audubon Society and Trailkeepers have days set aside to remove ivy from trees and pull it up altogether! You can not believe what a job it is. Portland is a totally Green world and unfortunately, a lot of it is Ivy. I once had the most gorgeous topiary of English Ivy–three balls of it in a tall planter, but when it finally died after about eight years, I could not replace it. No one would sell ivy.

    1. Hi Susan, I am aware of how contentious ivy is in the US, but there is also evidence to say that ivy doesn’t damage healthy trees at all. True, it can shade out sections of canopy and diminish leaf growth, but unlike mistletoe it isn’t a parasite, and the aerial roots can only penetrate bark that has already split. Its the same with brickwork, ivy roots will penetrate and further damage cracks in mortar, but can’t create them. In fact, ivy growing on sound house walls not only creates a wonderful wildlife habitat, it also provides excellent insulation and protects the walls from weather damage. I personally believe that when ivy is blamed for destroying a tree that has fallen in a storm, the ivy is merely guilty of adding weight to an already diseased and dying tree. Certainly my hawthorn is healthy and strong, non the worse for sharing space with its much-maligned ivy companion.

  5. Janet I love your tree and when i saw the second shot I too loved the gnarly, mossy limbs. And I loved your last thought…I wonder?? Good to hear you are getting rain!

    1. Hello Donna, the hawthorn has wonderful character, I hope to get some good shots of its gnarly limbs in winter when they are bared to the low sunlight. The rain has been most welcome, and we are also getting more sunny periods to balance it, which is perfect!

  6. Your hawthorn is fascinating in a way that I somehow liken it to an old man full of wisdom looking at the garden and knowing every nook and cranny of it learned through the years.

    1. Yes, that’s it exactly! I remember buying an arty postcard, years ago, a wonderful photo of a smiling old man whose tanned face was a network of wrinkles, mapping a life well lived. My hawthorn has something of the same charm.

  7. I really like the gnarled bits on your tree too. And the way it leans adds to its character as well. Some trees do seem to have a character don’t you think… maybe they all do but we don’t look hard enough. I shall take another look at the hawthorns near us tomorrow. Love the last photo!

    1. Hi Cathy, I think some trees age like botoxed celebrities, all smooth and straight, but hawthorns definitely go the Judi Dench route, all character and defiance, rather life-affirming. Or prejudice reinforcing…

  8. I do love hawthorns. We take them for granted because they are so common, but they are the backbone of the English countryside and provide so much interest. Yours is still green although autumn colour cannot be very far away.

    1. Hi Jane, me too, they provide so much of the character of our fields and country lanes, without ever really being celebrated for their contribution. I’m hoping autumn won’t come and go before next month’s post! I must remember to keep checking.

  9. I like the way you described the “gnarly architecture.” Isn’t it rewarding to follow a tree for a year? I, too, am noticing more things about my tree because I’m so keyed in to it. I love the structure of your Hawthorn!

    1. Hi Beth, yes, a far more rewarding thing to do than I had imagined, I love the way it is getting me to notice things I would otherwise be utterly unaware of.

  10. I love the old gnarled look as well – there are several old gnarled but dead hawthorns in our main hedge, as they don’t live for ever as I probably said last month (boring!). I wonder if small leaved trees don’t suffer as much in dry summers as larger leaved ones…seems logical…. Intrigued about the ban on ivy in parts of the US!

    1. Poor gnarled – but – dead hawthorns! They aren’t particularly long lived, are they, though I will miss mine once its time is done. Intriguing idea re small leaves, it does make sense, the sycamores have certar suffered greatly. BTW, would you like some stupa tenuissima with your anemanthele and Anthemis?

  11. Some real berried treasure nestled away in that tree trunk Janet. I like your hawthorn’s lean – it has character. Bindweed is an absolute ****** – don’t get me started on the subject :)

    1. I rather dispair over bindweed Anna, sorry to have raised a Difficult Subject ;-) Not sure I should let a second hawthorn start to grow at the foot of the gnarly parent…

  12. What a fab post! I’m pleased that you write about the environment and plants around the hawthorn and don’t focus solely on the tree. Good luck with beating that bindweed.

    1. Hi Sarah, I’ll need all the luck I can get waging war on the bindweed, and probably glysophate too… I’ve enjoyed being on ecosystem watch, but I never seem to spot birds in the hawthorn.

  13. Really like the picture of the ivy at the foot of the hawthorn, it shows the texture of this tree’s bark so well. And the delight of the little berry possibly waiting to become a tree! One of the good things about bindweed is that it’s easily pulled away when it dies. Brambles and bindweed tangle together round where I live and I know which one I’d rather grab a hold of!

    1. Hi Lucy, the beauty of the hawthorn bark took me aback, I hadn’t ever really taken the time to look until this meme, but it is rather splendid. I hope I don’t forget once I am following a different tree next year. Assuming you are doing it again next year?! I’m with you on the brambles, sadly, that bindweed is enmeshed in brambles on the park side…

  14. Something decidedly and unexpectedly satisfying about this tree following stuff Janet. You have certainly made your Hawthorn the ideal subject. What about this bindweed, it is proving to be a nuisance in our garden, not a weed that thrives in Aberdeen.

    1. It is highly addictive Alistair! Sorry you’ve “discovered” the joys of bindweed in the milder Cheshire climate… It is a brute of a plant to get rid of, I find the paint-on glysophate that comes in a stick a bit like a large deoderant excellent for where it pops up in between established borders.

  15. I like following your tree, Janet. It is glimpse into the future for the four hawthorns I’ve planted on my front lawn (think I’ve mentioned them before to you). Four years old, they too are being sculpted and thankfully have neither ivy nor bindweed to contend with.

    1. Yes, I look forward to seeing some photos – proof of life?! – of these hawthorns of yours. There is one just down the road from here that plays regular host to a chittering flock of sparrows. Maybe you’ll become an area feeding/resting station too? I’m not sure how long they take to become mature, less time when not contending with paving slabs, bindweed and ivy, I’m sure! Assuming they avoid the predations of the strimmer. The local council guy who strike our verges is rather prone to nicking chunks out of trees, the parish council is up in arms!!

  16. I like your hawthorn, it has great character. Do you get troubled with seedlings? This tree following is a great idea, it makes you really take notice of what is happening to your tree.
    I seem to have missed your last couple of posts. I’ m just going to have a look at your vases and see what you have to say about Jerusalem artichokes.

    1. Hi Chloris, no signs of seedlings sonfar, its mostly the sycamores I find, those I pull out by the armful every year. I’ve really enjoyed the tree following, it really has made me take notice of a tree that until now I just walked past without giving it any attention.

  17. Janet I like the windswept shape of your tree, after I planted some hawthorn which haven’t done well I read they like stoney very free draining ground and often grow wild on cliff edges by the coast so I’m not surprised your hawthorn wasn’t bothered by the dry weather, there was bindweed in the garden I had briefly in the 70’s and my parents garden, I fear it can be every bit as bad as my horsetails, back to your hawthorn, the gnarled bark with the ivy growing looks quite beautiful, it’s nice it had a good crop of berries and there are still some, a wet photo of them would show the red up beautifully ;) Frances

    1. Hi Frances, hawthorns certainly seem to be happy to cling to the sides of the cliffs round here, and hunch, sculpted by the wind, on the stony edges of fields by the coastal path too. I’ve been amazed at how beautiful the bark of the hawthorn is, I’d never taken any notice of it before. Asw for the bindweed, dreadful stuff, though if you keep yanking it out it does gradually weaken. The flowers are actually rather beautiful…

      1. lol, Janet, you reminded me of the time as a child I included bindweed flowers in a posy I had picked from a local wild area near our house, much to my father’s disgust that I included flowers from a weed he had spent years trying to eliminate from his garden, they came in from an unkempt garden at the rear of ours, your biggest problem will be the lack of control of the bindweed in the park, as well as the fence above ground you might find a barrier under ground useful too, Frances

  18. Tree following – what a brilliant idea! They change so much over the course of a year but it’s so subtle as well. Love that idea of photographing them month to month. I see bindweed isn’t an acceptable plant, unlike the ivy. I have bindweed issues all over the place. There’s just no way to keep on top of that stuff. Roots go for miles, they seed nonstop. Some days I think it would be easier to move.

    1. Hi Marguerite, yes isn’t it a brilliant meme! I’m so glad Lucy persuaded me to join in, maybe you could join in next year? You have so many great trees on your property now, it would be interesting to follow one through the extremes of your year’s weather. And no, there is nothing acceptable about bindweed – except, perhaps, in a wild area where one can enjoy the rather lovely flowers without fearing for the strangulation of precious plants!! it is indeed a never-ending battle, I find I just have to get philosophical about it, since I certainly don’t want to move…

  19. wonderful post Janet still full of interesting observations at this in-betweeny time of year, especially about the north/south differences. Your tree has a lovely sculpted shape – from the prevailing west wind I assume?
    p.s. have a hawthorn in our communal garden which I moved as a sprigling into a sunnier spot than where the birds had dropped it! Now a 7 footer

    1. Thank you Laura, I have found it amazing, realising just how much there is to observe about such a modest tree, stuck in an odd corner of my garden. Yes to being shaped by the wiind, but it is actually really sheltered from the south westerlies, it cops the northerly winter gales, they seem to be the main shaping force on this side of the Island. I like the sound of your flourishing hawthorn, how satisfying to be able to see it happily reaching for the sky knowing you had a hand in it. If I spot any seedlings I will certainly attempt to place them somewhere half way sensible.

  20. About Tree Following – people can join in at any time, they don’t need to wait for next year.

    I’ve been following specific trees since 2008 and haven’t specially bothered about start and stop points. In 2011 Natalie ( linked lots of bloggers for the ‘Tree Year’ but as that was a one-year-only project I took up the baton afterwards. It’s trundled along quietly since then. For some reason it has been taken up in a big way this year and I’m thrilled.

    So . . . for bloggers who are already following a tree – Yes, Tree Following will continue next year.

    Some may want to continue with the tree they’ve already got to know. Others may choose a different one.

    And new Tree Followers can join in whenever they like.

    Which means next year for those of us already following trees can really be next year. For new Tree Followers – it can start now. The more who join in, the (even) more interesting it will become.

    There’s a Tree Following Page to explain more about it – along with a list of people taking part and their blogs. (Some are more active than others.) Here’s the link.

    Janet – I hope it’s ok putting this note here. It’s just that you and others have been asking about next year.


    1. That’s all good to know Lucy, though I’m torn between wanting to carry on following my hawthorn and switching to another!! Its been a thoroughly enjoyable and frequently fascinating venture to be part of.

  21. Love your hawthorn. I have quite a few self seeded little ones around which I am ignoring as they really need lifting and putting into sensible places and I can’t quite get round to it. And as to bindweed, every year I think I have weakened it so that it won’t take over and every year I am quite wrong!

    1. Hi Elizabeth, happily hawthorns are quite slow growing really, so I’m sure you have a couple of years before you find you have an informal hedge where you never planned on having one… Bindweed is a blasted nuisance, and pretty much the only thing than can have me reaching for glysophate, and then only when it is growing up between established plants. The worst of it is, when you are digging it out, and emerge, triumphant, with a huge network of roots, you just know there are plenty of fragments left behind in the soil, just waiting…

  22. You’re doing much better than me, Janet at Tree Following. I’m afraid my choice of fruit trees was a bad one, not much going on after the fruit has fallen – that’s if there’s any fruit to start with! I had to give up with tree following as by the time I remembered to take photos, there was always something else to post about. So, back to the veg for me! Lovely to see such beautiful photos of your tree, Janet. You’re a one woman Hawthorn Appreciation Society!

    1. Hi Caro, I have found the tree following strangely addictive, and have been amazed that, each time I have been sure there will be nothing to say, actually my little tree and its companions have plenty for me to photograph and talk about. Its a shame about your fruit trees not proving good subjects, but thank you, you have ensured that I won’t pick one of mine to follow next year! Do I get a badge, for founding the Hawthorn Appreciation Society? I feel there ought to be a badge…

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