Thursday, August 26, 2010

Blog Migration

A new consolidated mistletoe blog, with all the versions going back to 2004 (there was some in 2003 too, but that's in the wrong format) are being combined for 2010 onwards at;

All updates for 2010/11 winter season will be there...

Thursday, September 11, 2008

2008/9 Mistletoe blogging

If you've dropped by looking for news about mistletoe for the 2008/09 mistletoe season you're in the wrong place.

I'm using the typepad site again this season (don't know why - I have to pay them and Blogger is free, so maybe I'll return here soon). But for now point your browser thisaway for mistletoe news...

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Need info on UK mistletoe for 2007/8?

Looking for news on mistletoe for winter 2007/8?

Have a look at the blog on the Typepad site - (one day I'll consolidate all these blogs into one site/thread - but I'm waiting for a few rainy days...)

Thursday, October 26, 2006

New Blog! Mistletoe Travels 2006/7

October 2006
Announcing the arrival of the new Mistletoe Travels blog (and podcast) - which is hosted by Typepad.
You can get to it by clicking here.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Flat-pack Mistletoe Table - yours for about £3,500

Forget Ikea - go for quality flat-packs! This little table is selling for £'000s!.

A recent Ebay auction caught my attention - a Louis Majorelle Gui pattern table for about £3500, and from a dealer just up the road in Gloucester!. What’s a Louis Majorelle Gui pattern? Well, as all mistletoe enthusiasts surely already know Majorelle (1859-1926) was one of the masters of art nouveau wood inlay furniture, operating out of Nancy, France from the 1880s. And Gui (Mistletoe, in French) was one of his regular themes.

I’ve seen examples of his work in Germany, and in books, but never on Ebay, or in a local antique dealers. So I had to know more… The online pictures told me most of the story – this is a two tier étagère, identical to one I've seen in the collection of Hans Becker in Germany, and similar to another I’ve seen illustrated – so that makes three in existence. The inlay, of darker wood mistletoe stems, leaves and berries, set in a lighter background looked identical to these others

Not being in a position to invest this much cash I was slightly embarrassed to make enquiries but Trevor, the dealer, was happy to send more information. The table wasn’t sold online, and could still be seen in his shop within Upstairs Downstairs, an antique warehouse in the Docks at Gloucester. This was even better than I had hoped – as I know the Docks well (used to work there until 2 months ago) So I toddled along to have a look – and here are my pics.

The étagère didn’t disappoint in the flesh – the inlay comprised mistletoe, plus butterflies, the French New Year mistletoe slogan Au Gui L’An Neuf (To the Mistletoe the New Year) and Majorelle’s signature. The pattern, like all Majorelle I’ve seen, was very Art Nouveau in style. (One peculiarity of this particular period of inlay is that I think it can look almost naïve to the uninitiated - but other opinions are most welcome - see the pics).

I had been particularly intrigued by the online promise that the table could be delivered flat-packed. How, I wondered? But, to my surprise the top and base were secured via finger screws to discreet brackets on the legs – the piece was obviously designed for easy transport.

A quick internet search on Majorelle shows that the asking price is reasonable (and be reassured that LM products are always considered genuine) – so, if you’re interested get on down to Upstairs Downstairs, 2 Severn Road, Gloucester, Gloucestershire, GL1 2LE, Tel: (+44) 1452 421170.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Mistletoe Festival and Mistletoe Sales News

New info on this year's Tenbury Wells Mistletoe Festival is now online - take a look at the new website at

And there's new info on buying mistletoe online at the Tenbury English Mistletoe Enterprise Mistletoe website:

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Foreign mistletoe in Gloucestershire! Whatever next?

Don't panic! There’s no mistletoe crisis yet. But I have a small confession to make. I’ve got North American mistletoe seedlings in my garden. Yesirree, they’re a-growing nicely.

Well, actually, they’re just a millimetre or so big, and I’m not yet sure whether they’ve linked to the host cambial tissues – but they look ok. Each one has grown from some Phoradendron seeds I planted back in February. And no I don’t know which species of Phoradendron, they came mail-order and without a name. Maybe P. flavescens, or P. serotinum or one of that there group of Phoradendrons.

What are Phoradendrons? They’re the American equivalent of our own Viscum album – similar in being an evergreen mistletoe with white berries, but very different in appearance. Take a look at this webpage to see the difference.

So why am I making such a fuss? Two reasons, one good and one bad. The good one is that it's such fun (in an anoraky mistletoey way) to grow a foreign species. The bad one is that we don’t want foreign mistletoe species to naturalise in Britain – they could become a major tree pest – so I’m going to have to keep an eye on these, just in case they turn out to be pesky critters. (Mind you, Kew Gardens have a foreign mistletoe already – see blogs passim – so maybe I’m just following their example…)

I don’t think I’ve got anything to worry about just yet though – take a look at these pics – the pesky critters are darn small…

The first pic shows one seedling on willow, the second has several on Robinia. Dedicated mistletoe growers should immediately spot the difference from Viscum - only one shoot per seed, not two! (the shoot is at the pointy end, you can just see the green seedling through the split end of the seed case - click the pic to enlarge it).

It's so exciting!!!

Monday, July 03, 2006

let's try podcasting

Mistletoe Diary is going audio - though not just yet. But here's a link to the feed to where the podcast will be... Check back soon!

Friday, June 30, 2006

A TEME meeting

A TEME meeting at Tenbury to discuss mistletoe products matters for December 2006 – largely variants of the wholesale and retail mistletoe packs we produced last year, based on customer feedback and suggestions.

But also to review other ideas, including mistletoe tea (and no it’s NOT poisonous – see Blogs passim), Spode and Royal Worcester mistletoe mugs etc etc.

The Grow-Your-Own kit is due to be taken off the website for now – getting too late in the season to plant it – but I’m hoping to report on some particularly interesting sowings of my own soon.

Yesterday I had some news about this year’s Mistletoe Festival – more on that soon as well.

(I've just re-read this blog, and it's a bit uneventful isn't it! Must try harder next time...)

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Dr Who, Mistletoe and werewolves...

"Omigod!!!" Mistletoe has just featured in Dr Who!!

Sorry about the OmiGod, I know it's getting a bit passe now*. But Dr Who and Mistletoe - what more could one ask for??

Ok, so it wasn't exactly explained why european mistletoe kept an alien werewolf (more correctly a 'lupine wavelength human variform') at bay, but it did seem to work. The Doc and his companions (including Queen Victoria) survived unharmed for a while in a panelled room varnished with 'Oil of Mistletoe'. And it wasn't quite technically perfect - the Doc seemed to think Viscum album was the name for 'Oil of Mistletoe' rather than the plant itself - but he did accurately point out it was full of Lectins and Viscotoxins - so perhaps these Time Lords do know what they're on about after all. Must try this myself next werewolf season...

For a full plot synopsis try the Wikipedia site. I may have missed a bit - as I was watching the repeat on BBC3 - a digital channel we still don't get here in densely populated Gloucestershire - a scandal the Beeb and/or the Government must sort out soon or I'll be taking them to court for breach of contract on the TV licence. We can only watch it whilst holding the aerial lead and with a specially boosted signal - and even then it conks out every minute or two. But the cricked neck from holding the aerial was worth it.

Er, that's it for now, mostly relatively quiet on the mistletoe front (apart from the ongoing grow your own enquiries, more mistletoe initiatives in London, the Royal Worcester Mistletoe mug initiative etc etc... keeps me busy, even out of season)

*For non-UK readers, or those in the UK who've spent the last few months in solitary, Omigod became the (rather tedious) catchphrase of Chantelle, the, er, non-celebrity who won the recent UK Celebrity Big Brother - if you really really want to know what that's about you could try clicking here...)

Saturday, February 25, 2006

The Darwinian Expedition

The day of the Darwin mistletoe workshop (see blog 13th Feb) . So off to north Kent/south London first thing.

We start off with my mistletoe briefing - in Down House. Which is nice - 'cos we're in one of Darwin's own rooms... So I feel obliged to quote, at appropriate moments, from Origin of Species.

Then it's off to plant some mistletoe, pausing only for the obligatory press pics.

This is my version of the press picture - the group may look a bit worried (click to enlarge) but there is a lot of mistletoe being handled... and it can make people nervous...

Plus it's a b****dy cold day (there's snow in the lane), which accounts for why these lovely ladies are all sporting cosy hats.

But we're soon at work - starting at Great Pucklands field (where Darwin did his earthworm studies - click here for more info on Down House geography ). Here we plant mistletoe on hawthorn...

Then a quick bit of planting on some limes on the Sand Walk... before a light lunch at the Down House tearoom.

After lunch, we go mistletoe planting on Apples in the recently established Downe Village community orchard.

Every planting gets labelled, and some get a chicken-wire guard to deter seed-eating birds.

Last site is at Downe Bank - a woodland/ grassland hillside site now managed by Kent Wildlife Trust. This is Darwin's Orchis Bank - where he did his orchid studies in prep for the writing of Origin.

Here we plant on hawthorn, maple and whitebeam. The dominant tree is hazel, complete with dormouse boxes, but this isn't a suitable host.

An interesting site - still with many of the orchids Darwin knew here - though this is hard to appreciate in February!

A good mistletoe day. Certainly Judy John (Bromley's 'Darwin at Downe' World Heritage Site Officer) seems happy enough!

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Loughborough's mistletoe

Thorpe Acre, Loughborough, 7.30pm Gorse Covert Community Centre

Thorpe Acre is now a suburb of Loughborough town, but was once an area of apple orchards - and mistletoe.

Recent initiatives by Roy Campsell and Mark Graham have shown that some of this mistletoe survives - on former orchard apple trees now 'stranded' in house gardens etc.

So why not resuscitate the old mistletoe colony? Collect berries from surviving mistletoe-infected trees and hand 'em out to the community to grow on on new trees.

This is where I come in. Mark (wildlife officer with Charnwood Borough) has organised a berry exchange - at the Community Centre. I give the background talk, and info (slides and handouts) on how to grow your own - and at the end of the evening local berrries are handed out to attendees.

And it is very good session - lots of interest, loads of enthusiasm. A proper mistletoe conservation event. It feels good. And Mark even provides fresh mistletoe tea to round it off.

But I'll have to come back next year to hear about results...

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Walking with mistletoe nearly makes the news

The annual Mistletoe Walk at Hampton Court Palace takes place this weekend, led by the Palace Estates Team and Tyrrell Marris, who heads up the Richmond Mistletoe Action Plan. Hampton Court has one of the best mistletoe colonies in London, known for at least 200 years, mostly in the Lime Avenues.

The walk was very nearly publicised on ITV's regional London News programme yesterday evening - but the satellite link for the live broadcast failed just as the piece began. So, in lieu of TV coverage, here's the gen:
  • Saturday 18th February, meet at the Lion Gate entrance on Hampton Court road (opposite the entrance to Bushy Park) at 11.00am. As well as seeing the mistletoe there will be a special visit to the Palace's 17th century Ice House.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Charles Darwin's mistletoe

To Down House, Kent (actually London Borough of Bromley these days). This is Charles Darwin's place, and I'm here with Judy John of Bromley Council and Toby Beasley of English Heritage to discuss planting mistletoe in the grounds and nearby. Down House and garden are owned by EH.

The whole area has been proposed as a World Heritage Site - to be known as "Darwin at Downe" by the Government (Downe village has an E, Down House doesn't). Judy is the Bromley's WHS Project Officer and is promoting Darwin's association with a range of nearby sites - the field where he undertook his famous earthworm studies, and the grassland bank where he investigated orchids etc. Darwin also studied mistletoe - and that's where I come in.

We're running a mistletoe workshop (Magical Mistletoe) here on Saturday 25th where I'll be outlining mistletoe biology and then taking groups out to try and re-establish mistletoe in the great man's old haunts. These will include areas adjoining the garden but also some sites futher afield. Lots of links to the Greater London Mistletoe Plan - but also to Darwin himself. The event starts at High Elms Nature Centre at 11.00 - but booking is essential; phone 020 8461 7646 or email

Today's visit is just a recce - but a very satisfying one for me, as I've always been a Darwin fan.

Later I have a quick trip into Hounslow- to suss out other potential mistletoe sites at Bedfont Lakes Country Park, just off the A30. A very different sort of site, but just as impressive in its own way. But more on this site another time....

Saturday, February 11, 2006

The TEME Mistletoe Kit: Grow-your-own

The TEME mistletoe shop is back in buisness - but the Valentine Mistletoe isn't moving very fast. That's not really surprising - as there are a lot of valentine products out there and TEME haven't really advertised. The exercise is more about seeing people's reaction and feedback than making a profit (this year). And there's not much time left for new orders now.

There is more interest in the TEME Grow-your-own Mistletoe Kit - and as this will be available for another 6 or 7 weeks there could be quite a run on these. The kit content was only finalised this week - with a colour 'how to grow it' leaflet compiled (by me) for inclusion.

The whole package, pictured left, is shoe-horned into a plastic pillow-pack - originally conceived for the valentine's gift but surprisingly suitable for the kit as well.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Love that mistletoe! And those canals!

Lots on the to-do list today, so have just spent a happy few hours ignoring it and browsing the web instead.

Amongst other distractions I ran a search on Mistletoe Diary - just to see whether there are many refs to it. The most prominent was at Granny Buttons, a "narrowboat blog about the English cut" by canal enthusiast Andrew Denny.

According to Andrew I "love" mistletoe. I'll forgive him the exaggeration, but I'm concerned that he's worried that I might "try to stop a canal being restored because of some rare species of mistletoe. Or bat."

This may seem an odd remark, bearing in mind my job is, er, restoring canals. Hmm... Actually there's a long (and to me somewhat tedious) story, based on many examples, and the work and research of many people, stretching back years, behind that kind of remark and that concern. There are some very real issues, like them or not, but unfortunately these are very misunderstood, and often ignored (in a head-in-the-sand kind of way) by both the canal and wildlife lobbies. It can lead to conflict - often unnecessarily. Even when there are 'show-stoppers', a compromise of some sort can usually be reached - but of course one person's compromise is another person's sell-out....

I should know, sifting and forging ways forward through these issues has been my job for 20 years. It aint simple, and a lot depends on what one means by 'restoring a canal'. But that's all another story. If you really want to know more you could try reading my review of the issues in the Wildlife Trusts' Wetland Restoration Manual - the Canals Chapter appeared in the second edition a few months ago - you can buy a copy by clicking here (though I think it'll set you back £45 - extracts may be available on request...).

Talking of canal restorations - we've got our money! For the first Phase of the Cotswold Canals project - 3 years of planning and prevaricating - and at last we have the budget - £11.9M from Heritage Lottery Fund, and £6M from South-West RDA - which with other commitments brings us a total of £22M towards the £24M needed. Digging will start in late summer - we hope... More on this at the British Waterways website. And if you're really interested, take a look at our Project Atlas - detailing all the Cotswold Canal Phase 1 plans (including those for rare plants and bats) and open for comments now.

Enough about canals! Back to Mistletoe Diary - and I see there are also refs in two organic gardening Blogs: Amy Stewart's Dirt, and Andrew Skinner's Lavendon Garden. Amy is in northern California - must drop her a line about mistletoe over there - there's a long-established colony of European mistletoe in Sonoma County - just to the south of her, which I hope to visit later this year.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Wye Valley mistletoe

To Redbrook, on the banks of the Wye, just south of Monmouth. One foot in England, the other in Welsh Wales.

Yes, its another winter walk, with the usual mistletoe flavour. Not the main purpose - that's more to do with exercise, fresh air, and checking out the estate agents' windows. We walk a circular route, on Offa's Dyke Path from Redbrook to Monmouth, and back via the Wye Valley Walk. Last time I did the first part of this walk was 1979, as a spotty student building self-confidence before going off to University. I did about half the whole Dyke path then - 70-odd miles, before admitting my boots needed more walking-in first.

Looks just the same on the ascent up the Kymin, a hill between Redbrook and Monmouth. But the noises are different - a angry wasp sound gets louder as we ascend, soon to reveal itself as a Moto-X track, with loads of kiddies with expensive toys going round and round in pointless noisy circles in the mud. Hmm! Haven't they got anything better to do?

We soon leave them behind though, and reach the Naval Temple on the Kymin, erected c 1810 to commemorate British victories over the French, Spanish and Dutch. Not v PC these days - but gripping stuff!

Lots of names and dates of battles, mostly in the 1790s. These battles are largely forgotten now - but judging by this monument you'd think we had nothing better to do back then.

(We did do better things of course - the Ind Rev was then in full swing, and the canals were all getting their Acts of Parliament).

Some good mistletoe on the way up... on field boundary hawthorns and whitebeams etc... Looking very yellow in the winter light.

Then down to Monmouth, quick comfort stop in town, checking out estate agents, and watching the police break up a minor street brawl - then off down the river...

There's mistletoe here too. No surprise there - as the Wye and Usk are corridors of mistletoe colonies right into the mountains...

But the plants are few and far between. Here's Caroline demonstrating how difficult it is to photograph when it's at the top of a tall tree...

The river has a few surprises - these two old railway viaducts recall the industrial days of the Wye Valley - when there were mills of all sorts on the tributary streams, and the rivers ran red with the rust colour from the local ironworks (hence "Redbrook"). One is, obviously, defunct, the other is in use as a footpath.

Lots of wildlife on the Wye - swans, ducks, moorhen, heron etc etc. And such a change from our usual canals - this is proper moving water - and lots of it.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Get your Valentine's Day Mistletoe here!

A TEME team meeting, to discuss Valentine's Day!!

Mostly to discuss another mistletoe marketing experiment - mistletoe for your valentine. Soon to be available at

Not to mention the grow-your-own mistletoe kit.

More details soon.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

London Mistletoe Matters, and a visit to Kew

A trip to Kew Gardens, to attend a meeting of the London Biodiversity Plan Mistletoe Group. As regular (!) Mistletoe Diary followers know, this is a group endeavouring to conserve London's mistletoe, and create new colonies.

I won't bore you with details of the discussions - more on those some other time. But you might be interested in our mistletoe-filled walk around the grounds...

Now you must first understand that Kew Gardens have no mistletoe - at least not live specimens - there are plenty of international mistletoe species represented in the Herbarium building, but they're all dried-up...

In the grounds, and as part of the London mistletoe project, we've been trying to establish mistletoe anew. This has now been achieved, through the efforts of Masaya Tatebayashi, a horticultural student. And (this is good bit) we've discovered that despite expectations there IS mistletoe living at Kew, just not the UK species... As part of today's meeting we went to look for both Masaya's new seedlings, and the mystery non-native mistletoe... A few pics showing our efforts:

This is the mystery mistletoe... growing on a Black Oak, and looking suspiciously like Loranthus europaeus - a deciduous species of central Europe. What it's doing here no-one seems to know. Note that the immediate clue is just a swollen branch - no evergreen leaves here. Close inspection shows that the branches differ markedly from the host.

And then the search for those seedlings... We know they're on this tree somewhere.

Definitely, somewhere on this tree...

And at last, here they are... tiny, 2-year-old mistletoe seedlings... More on these in due course.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Mistletoe Plans 2006

Seems a long time since Christmas already - but mistletoe business is looming again already.

The TEME mistletoe initiative had a review meeting this week - with outline planning already for Christmas 2006 but also new immedaite ideas - including a Valentine's Day mistletoe gift initiative and marketing of a new 'grow-your-own' mistletoe kit. Details of both on the TEME website. Exact details and prices not quite worked out yet but will be soon...

Meanwhile I'm reviewing what needs to be done in London this season - where the London Biodiversity Plan is encouraging establishment of new mistletoe populations. February and March are the best planting season - and a meeting has just been arranged later this month to plan activities this season. It'll be at Kew, where some new mistletoe plants have already been established.

More on this, and other mistletoe plantings, in due course.

Happy New Year!!

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