This tree following meme involves a monthly update on the chosen tree on the 7th of the month. It is interesting to see how a tree develops over the course of the year but in the life of a tree everything moves slowly, especially if the tree is a Mulberry. The Mulberry is not a tree in a hurry.
The leaves are slowly opening though and showing quite a bit of green. Whether they opened with an audible pop as Pliny asserted I am not in a position to say. I am intrigued by Pliny’s ideas about mulberries I have been reading his Natural History which was probably the first encyclopaedia. He was very knowledgeable but some of his facts are rather surprising. He was sure that there were strange races of men living at the edges of the world. One of them, the Sciapodae was a tribe of men with one large foot that they could handily use as a parasol.
There was a dog-faced race, the Cynocephalus people.
And then there were the Astomi; a race without mouths which existed by sniffing things. All this has nothing to do with the mulberry tree but it does rather show that Pliny can’t be relied on when he tells us the mulberry leaves burst forth audibly.
To approach the meadow where my tree lives you walk down a cow parsley lined lane.
The meadow itself is full of buttercups, cow parsley and red campion so it is all afroth with May colour.
The tree is looking much more interesting than last month with its emerging leaves.
The opening leaves are heart shaped and at the same time that the leaves are opening the flowers are produced. They look more like stubby catkins than flowers.
The great thing about this meme is learning all about your chosen tree. I love doing the research and l have enjoyed finding out more about the Mulberry and its history. The Romans probably introduced the Mulberry into England but it was during the reign of James 1 that it was planted extensively. Hearing that Henri IV of France was ordering more than 15000 white mulberries to be planted in all the royal parks to promote the silk industry, James decided to promote it here too. The wool trade was in decline so it seemed like a good alternative. He was also anxious to wrest the monopoly of the silk trade from the French. He wrote to the deputy lieutenants of all the counties saying that landowners were required to buy 10,000 mulberry trees at a cost of 6 shillings per hundred. William Stallenge who was a customs official was given control of the project. He was charged with bringing out an instruction book for the growing of the trees and the breeding of silk worms and he was given a 7 year patent for the seed. He was also put in charge of the 4 acres of mulberry trees that James had planted in Westminster. In 1609 he was paid the princely sum of £935 for the job. So he did very well out of it. Nobody else did though. The whole silk making project was a failure probably because the tree chosen; Morus nigra, the black mulberry was not suitable for raising silk worms. It was probably selected because it is hardier than the White Mulberry but that is not much help if the silkworms don’t like it.
There is still a street named Mulberry Walk off the King’s Road in Chelsea which marked the boundary of the Chelsea mulberry plantation. Following on the royal tradition, the Queen grows mulberries and she has the only National Collection in the country in the gardens of Buckingham Palace, Kensington Palace and Windsor Castle. So if you happen to read this Your Maj. I am more than happy to pop along to Buckingham Palace and compare notes about mulberries. I can fill you in on all sorts of interesting and irrelevant facts about Pliny too.
Thank you to Lucy at looseandleafy for hosting this tree following meme. Why don’t you pop over there and see what other peoples’ trees are doing this May?