|I’m Following a Tree|
I am a little late joining in with Lucy at LooseandLeafy for her meme on Follow a Tree which is on the 7th of each month. It is a great idea to choose a tree and observe it as the year goes round.
The Mulberry tree: Morus nigra I am following is very old and has historical associations.
It is said to have been planted in 1550 by Adam Winthrop the grandfather of John Winthrop. John Winthrop led a party of Puritans to found a colony in North America in 1630. He became the first Governor of Massachusetts.
Adam Winthrop was a clothier but the family probably had financial problems when there was a slump in the cloth trade in 1550. Many clothiers turned to silk as an alternative and indeed silk is still made in nearby Sudbury. It is possible that the Winthrops decided to plant mulberry trees for the silk trade. This tree sits by itself in the middle of a field close to the Winthrop’s family seat. I wonder if there was once a whole field of mulberry trees and that this is the only one left. It was a common mistake when this tree was so new and exotic to plant the black mulberry: Morus nigra instead of the white one: Morus alba which is the one used in silkworm production. John Winthrop went to America for religious reasons but maybe for financial ones as well when the silk making project came to nothing.
It is hard to believe that this tree is so old but I imagine that as the years went by the tree fell down and regenerated itself from the places where the trunk met the earth.
The field where this tree is to be found is called the croft and is maintained for the use of the people of the village of Groton, Suffolk. In late summer people from the village pick the juicy berries for jam and pies. They are very protective of the tree and get very annoyed when outsiders come and pick the fruit.
I have a mulberry tree in my garden which I am told is about 40 years old and was grown from a cutting from the Groton mulberry. I decided to watch the old tree rather than mine because I am fascinated by its great age and the history surrounding it.
The mulberry is always late coming into leaf and the buds show no sign of opening as yet.
Talking about mulberries made me wonder about the derivation of the children’s nursery rhyme; ‘Here we go round the mulberry bush‘. Apparently it is thought that this was the chant of inmates at Wakefield prison. As they exercised they walked round and round the mulberry tree in the prison yard.
Many thanks to Lucy for hosting this meme.