The most English of flowers

Crataegus monogyna is normally an unassuming little tree. In May, though, it gives the English countryside a frothy, lacy glamour that nothing else can equal.

For me the flower of England is not the red Tudor rose but the white hawthorn. I used to commute from London to Kent and remember my astonishment – every spring again – when suddenly the hawthorn in the hedges erupted into flower, spectacularly carpeting the countryside.

Also called May-tree, the hawthorn encompasses hundreds of species and is a member of the rose family. Not just pretty, it is edible too. In spring, the leaves can be eaten as salad. In autumn, the fruit is used to make jelly, homemade wine, flavoured gin or ketchup.

2 Comments on "The most English of flowers"

  1. Proust goes on about the may blossom in Normandy at great length. As for sparkling wine, the conditions are right on both sides of the Channel.

    • Did not know about Proust’s liking for mayflowers. But am aware of David Hockney’s – his Yorkshire hedges in spring are how I remember Kent.

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