The Mulberry Tree. October 2014

On the 7th of each month all the tree followers who are joining in with Lucy’s meme at looseandleafy  give an update of their chosen tree. This morning I made my way down the little lane which leads to the tree.
As I said before my mulberry is not a tree in a hurry. It was late getting its leaves and the leaves are late getting their autumn colour.

There are a few shrivelled fruits left on the tree. Mulberry berries are not actually berries but multiples of tiny drupes or druplets.  I feel I have to mention this for Jason at gardeninacity who is very keen on drupes and very knowledgeable about them.

Shrivelled drupes.

Shrivelled drupes.

The side of the tree which faces the sun has some buttercup yellow foliage. Just a bit.
I was disappointed because early October 1889 is when Van Gogh painted the wonderful, autumn foliage of  his dazzling picture of the Mulberry Tree which grew in the grounds of the asylum in Saint-Remy-de-Provence. Van Gogh was here as a voluntary patient after cutting off his ear, or part of it, during a row with Gaugin.  He had had to leave his little yellow house after a petition  signed by 30 local people who were keen to get rid of the ‘fou rouge’ as they called him. In May 1889 he left Arles  and became a voluntary patient in the asylum.
Van Gogh wrote to his sister, Willemina: ‘As regards mulberry trees, there are a lot here. I painted one not long ago when its bushy foliage was a magnificent yellow against a very blue sky and a white, stony, sunlit field behind.’ 

The Mulberry tree.  Oil on Canvas. Norton Smith Museum Pasadena. California.

The Mulberry tree.
Oil on Canvas. Norton Smith Museum. Pasadena. California.












I really wish my mulberry tree looked like this. But Van Gogh’s tree is Morus alba rather than Morus nigra and the blue sky is lit up by the luminous light of Provence rather than the pale blue of a Suffolk October sky. There are no white stones here to set off the tree either.  And of course this is a mulberry tree filtered through the eyes of a genius.  Van Gogh seemed calm and settled when he painted this.  He wrote to his brother:  ‘I’ll tell you we are having some superb autumn days, and that I’m taking advantage of  them’. In fact all his paintings were done in periods of calm because when he was in the grip of madness he was unable to paint.

Less than a year after painting this beautiful mulberry tree Van Gogh shot himself whilst out painting in the wheat fields. He was just 37.

Thank you once again Lucy for hosting this tree following meme which I am finding quite a challenge.

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55 Responses to The Mulberry Tree. October 2014

  1. Christina says:

    More fascinating info Chloris, you certainly chose an interesting tree, one of the reasons I didn’t join this meme was that I thought my posts would be rather boring, but yours never are!

  2. I’m enjoying your news about the mulberry tree, plus you always offer such fascinating asides. When Tim and I were first married and couldn’t afford art (or anything else), Van Gogh prints papered our walls. Now I’m afraid I’ve grown a bit boring, but I’ll print a copy of The Mulberry Tree for the pinboard over my desk…and we’ll see what excitement the vision might precipitate.

  3. Julie says:

    I love your posts Chloris, they are always much more than expected. Van Gogh’s story is so very sad. I visited the Van Gogh museum with my youngest daughter in Amsterdam a couple of years ago, Lottie has lots of his prints but not The Mulberry Tree, its quite beautiful. Off now to read about Drupes!

    • Chloris says:

      Thank you Julie.How wonderful to visit the Van Gogh museum.
      Glad you too are going to learn about drupes. The trouble is that unless you are talking to a gardener it’ s not something that you can drop into the conversation.

  4. Debra says:

    I always like to hear about your Elizabethan mulberry. Mine had a few leaves turn yellow in August but I think it was heat stress. At the moment it is still green. I am looking forward to its transformation. In the past the leaves turned a bright yellow which I think looked nice against the orange bark of the trunk. It is considered a weed here I think it is such a lovely thing (not to mention a gift from visiting birds). Maybe it was a particularly cold fall in France that year for Vincent?

    • Chloris says:

      Thank you Debra. I expect your weedy tree is a Morus rubra. Vinvent’ s was Morus alba and mine is Morus nigra.I expect they all vary in their autumn colour. Vincent wrote to his brother that the weather had been beautiful for several days whilst he was painting.
      My tree doesn’ t look as if it is going to turn bright yellow. The yellow leaves are all going a bit mottled and brown.

      • Debra says:

        Thanks for the follow up. I honestly don’t know which mulberry mine is. I have tried to figure it out but they are so similar I gave up. In North America it is the imported alba that is considered invasive. It was brought here in the 1700s to try to develop a silkworm industry. The red mulberry is native but hasn’t been able to compete. It gets weirder because the two species have hybridized making identification even harder.

  5. I always learn something new from you, Chloris.
    Thank you.
    Sorry for the recent radio silence.

  6. I think your mulberry tree will look like Van Gogh’s soon…it is getting a little yellow dressing….love the info you shared and between you and Jason is the first I am hearing of drupes.

  7. This is interesting. I never thought of mulberries as having colorful fall foliage. Thanks for the salute to drupes!

    • Chloris says:

      Clearly Morus alba colours beautifully but I don’ t think mine will.
      It’ s you we have to thank. You started all this drupe business. Now we are all talking drupes.

  8. Tina says:

    A lovely post. I like this meme and it’s great to read your particular spin on this tree. I look forward to more.

  9. pbmgarden says:

    I must have read dozens of times the title of Van Gogh’s painting but it’s more meaningful to associate it now with your variety of mulberry.

  10. Good to know that Mulberry fruits are actually drupes! I think I need to make a chart to keep track, based on Jason’s post. 😉 It’s wonderful to have some history–and art history!–as background information about your Mulberry tree!

  11. Lucy Corrander says:

    If I’ve got this right I can now call a blackberry a conglomeration of drupelets? I hope I can remember the word. It sounds good and describes something precise without seeming pretentious.

  12. Flighty says:

    As always an interesting, and informative, tree following post. xx

  13. Cathy says:

    I hadn’t realised Van Gogh was so young when he ended his life, Chloris – love this mulberry picture which I don’t think I have been especially aware of before. I remember one autumn I noticed a row of trees on the roadside where one side of them, presumably south facing, was all yellow and orange whilst the other was still green – I suppose in Provence the sun is higher and stronger but who knows, perhaps your mulberry will do itself proud!

    • Chloris says:

      I love this painting too. I don’ t think my mulberry will ever look like that. At this rate the leaves will all be blown off before they turn any more yellow.

  14. AnnetteM says:

    Really interesting post about Van Gogh. I enjoyed it very much.

  15. I had not seen the Van Gogh Mulberry picture before and I love it. Perhaps your buttery yellow leaves will come through by next week?

  16. coastcard says:

    What a lot of new words we are all learning … ‘drupes’ for me this time from your post! I thought of your tree when I saw a mulberry, and was also reminded of silkworms. I love the impasto Van Gogh!

  17. snowbird says:

    Being a huge fan of Van Gogh I did enjoy this post and drupes are now firmly entrenched in my vocab having read Jason’s post too….it’s such a fabulous word isn’t it….drupes!!!! Yes!xxx

    • Chloris says:

      Thank you, I love dear Vincent too.
      We are all learning about drupes thanks to Jason.I love new words and this is a good one. I keep practising it to myself.

  18. Cathy says:

    The delicate yellow against a blue sky, however pale, is still lovely to see Chloris. I am sure there will be a lot of change within October still. I love the tales you add to your posts – I think I have seen that painting, but didn’t know it was a Mulberry!

  19. Anna says:

    Your mulberry seems to be in its summer attire still Chloris but as you say it was late to leaf up. Drupes ring a bell with me – shades of ‘O’ level Biology maybe 🙂 Like Cathy I’ve seen that Van Gogh painting but did not realise that the tree was a mulberry. I imagine that the heat and the mistral winds in Provence would speed up the changing of leaf colour compared to what goes on under a wide Suffolk sky. So so sad when anybody with such sublime talent dies so young and does not achieve all that they might have gone on to do.

    • Chloris says:

      I did O level biology but I have no recollection of drupes. I just remember weird things like mitochondria and the sexual reproduction of the amoeba- binary fission. Useless things like that. Drupes, though, are worth knowing about.

  20. Hollis says:

    So many great stories to tell being a mulberry follower! this one got me thinking … Van Gogh’s mulberry was not constrained by the limits of a camera, and could grow with all the wonder and dazzle in his mind.

  21. Chloris says:

    You are right Hollis. My mulberry could never compete with the one of Vincent’ s vision.

  22. As always your posts are an education Chloris – thoroughly enjoyable read.
    Have you considered showing the image of Van Gogh’s Mulberry to your tree, you never know, you might shame it into turning yellow 🙂

  23. hoehoegrow says:

    Thank you Chloris, for educating me about mulberry trees ! My aunt gave me a poor little stunted oe which had languished in a small pot for years, only just clinging on to life. I have planted it in the ‘orchard’ and am now waiting and watching for something, I know not what, to happen ! Having read about yours, I now know about things like Drupes !

  24. bittster says:

    The mulberry tree is doing quite well filtered through your eyes as well, and as far as I know you still have all your ears which is a good thing.
    Nice job again!

    • Chloris says:

      Thank you Frank. Yes I still have both my ears but I think you need to have an artistic temperament to cut them off in an argument. Either that or be a complete loony.

  25. Another fascinating tree post Chloris! A beautiful Van Gogh, he was such a tragic figure, it hurts to think of the beautiful art we are missing out on thanks to his early demise. The phrase “shrivelled drupes” is a tad disturbing…

    • Chloris says:

      Yes it would be lovely if he could have gone on and found peace of mind and recognition for his work.
      I thought the caption for that picture was a tad disturbing but I am afraid I have a peculiar sense of humour and it appealed to me.

  26. lizard100 says:

    Love the art connection. What a great idea!

    • Chloris says:

      Thank you, I have been waiting all year to show you Van Gogh’ s Mulberry Tree in its autumn glory. Next month, no doubt, I shall be scraping the barrel again trying to find something to say about it other than: ‘ Here is the Mulberry tree in November. It has lost its leaves’ .

  27. I can’t believe I somehow almost missed your tree-following post. Once again, it’s wonderful! I hadn’t remembered that Van Gogh painted a mulberry tree – it’s a perfect pairing with your tree update.

  28. Chloris says:

    Thank you, I have been waiting for October so that I could mention Van Gogh’ s wonderful painting. I only wish my tree could rise to the occasion and look as good.

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