Despite the unseasonably mild weather of late, I am sure that few readers will be gardening in these next few days…so thought that a little armchair horticulture would be in order!
Here is part of a quiz we had on our last day of term for the RHS group – see how you get on and the answers will be given next week.
The first letter of each answer spells out two words that are a common sight at this time of year.
1. Father Christmas often says this – although I am not sure that he has never been known to use one.
2. Britain’s oldest botanic garden is found in which university town?
3. ‘Hidcote’ is one of these, so is ‘Loddon Blue’.
4. Chelsea gold medallists H W Hyde are specialist growers of what type of plant?
5. This lady’s surname should not be a thorny problem for readers of a certain newspaper.
6. Lima, French and Mr _ _ _ _ ?
7. This oily Australian tree was first brought to England by Captain Cook in 1770.
8. Cornwall is famous for spring displays of which flowering shrub, originally from the Himalayas?
9. An Oxfordshire stately home, with a landscape designed by Charles Bridgeman and then William Kent.
10. Preferred material for the longbows that defeated the French at Agincourt.
I am sure you will be able to crack the answer to this…but if you are struggling, here are a few more ‘facts’ which may lead you in in the right direction.
In order to achieve the answer, both male and female plants will need to be grown, as the plant is dioecious.
Depending on the species – and there are many, both evergreen and deciduous – fruits may be red, yellow, orange, black or white!
White chess pieces are traditionally made using the wood of this plant.
It also makes excellent firewood – even when green.
Concoctions of the plant have been used by many cultures, including the Chinese and North American Indians, to cure fever, restlessness, measles, smallpox, kidney infections, asthma and childbirth pains (please note – I am not recommending these herbal uses!).
Ancient Greeks used it as a symbol of foresight.
Romans used it as a symbol of goodwill and sent it out to friends during the Saturnalia celebrations.
Whilst in this country it is considered sacred among those who practice witchcraft. Its strong connections with pagans led to it being banned, along with Mistletoe, from the Christian church until the 1600’s.
Another tradition states that whoever brought the first sprig in the house, husband or wife, at Christmas – they would rule the house for the next year...
Happy Christmas from all at Manea School of Gardening.