Hawthorn North Pennines

Hawthorn North Pennines

Hawthorns have excited herbalists and botanists for centuries, none more so than the Celts who understood the medicinal values. The berries can be used as a cardiac tonic, even the leaves can be used as tea, and the seeds roasted like coffee. Magical usage can include, protection, love, health, prosperity, fertility, purification, male potency, purity, inner journeys, female sexuality, cleansing, and happiness. The latter sounds best to me. I’ve even heard if you hang a branch from your house it can protect it from lightning. However, don’t ever bring it indoors as it’s said to hold bad luck. It offers something all year round, flowers in spring, fruit in late summer and colour in the autumn. In much of England and the North Pennines it’s commonly grown as a hedge plant. I like it most when the berries are ripe and the thicket filled with the sound of birds. If a shrub could be the green man, I believe the hawthorn to be him. Sparrows and finch are safe from raptors protected by his bony fingers, with his eyes watching from the darkest shadows within. This painting was produced from a photograph I took last year.


24 Replies to “Hawthorn North Pennines”

  1. Nice work, Keith. You’ve found a very successful balance between form and texture. The grass feels lush and also describes the contour of the slope extremely well.

    I’ve been enjoying your boat series, by the way.

  2. Fabulous post and painting. I never knew anything about hawthorns. It all sounded fantastic until you got to the part about not bringing it inside.

    The painting is wonderful with such texture and fullness in the tree. Now I will have to look for one. I wonder if they have any around where I live?

    1. Hawthorns have always intrigued. I think it comes from my youth. They don’t grow very tall so they’re a bit like tree children! Am I making any sense?-no, thought not. 🙂 Seriously though, thanks for the kind comments Carol.

  3. I agree with Carol about everything wonderful till you bring it in the house. If I ever get a branch in my hand I will have to remember that.
    I love the painting, Keith! I love how full and natural that it looks; reminds me of the plum tree in my yard in spring. Excellent work, Keith!

    1. I love plum trees. I used to fish in a very remote spot surrounded by shrubs and a very special plum tree. I used to fill my pockets to take home for a pie. Happy days. Thanks again for visiting my blog Debbie, I’m always chuffed when you make a reply.

  4. Wow. New favorite for me, Keith. I enlarged this and stared at it for some time. The texture created is brilliant. After your description and upon viewing your painting, I think I would like one of these trees in my yard, even!

    1. Thank you Leslie. I painted the tonal values first and then added the colour. I wish I’d taken a picture before adding the colour, just to show the stages as you do. Thanks again for your kind support.

  5. What a fascinating tree! Those red berries are just wonderful, and I love the movement of the grasses below, gently bending in the breeze. Very beautiful Keith. Have you tried the berries roasted as coffee? Or the tea? What does it taste like?

    1. Thanks Amber, I haven’t tried either yet, but I plan to. The spot I took the picture for this painting is one of those very personal places. The fact that hawthorns cling to the hill just make it more so. I’ll let you know when I try the tea. If you don’t ever hear from me, you’ll know what happened 🙂

  6. On this side of the Atlantic hawthorn was used to craft fence posts and tool handles. My aunt has one growing in front of her cottage. Your hawthorn is gorgeous! I love this painting! I enlarged it and gazed at it for some time, too…

  7. Hawthorn seems to go as far back in history as history its self. Really pleased you like my humble painting Barbara. Thanks again for reading and your much appreciated comments. They’re very important to me.

  8. This is beautiful & quite strong I think – I like the rhythmic contrast of textures between the grasses & the hawthorn & the way you’ve captured the light.

    I like hawthorns too – I’ve taken lots of photos of them thinking I might use them in a painting, but something else always seems to take over. One day maybe I will. They’ve been in flower a while now given the weather has been so warm. Interesting about not bringing them in the house, I know the same belief applied to may blossom or elderflower. I wonder what the idea evolved from.

  9. Not sure about the origins of some of these old beliefs. I too like hawthorns, especially in the autumn when birds flock from colder climates to feed on the berries. I find it interesting to paint sections, looking at the small details, rather than the full landscape. I’m always looking for something different even if I never manage quite to find it.

  10. Beautiful painting, Keith. I adore Hawthorn, and we have one in our garden. It still has some flowers, but I don’t know how much longer they will last. I tried to get some photos of it recently but didn’t do as well as I’d wanted.

    1. Thank you Val. I took this photograph last year, but it took a while before I mustered the courage to paint it. I too love the Hawthorn and the way the birds feed on the fruit. Something very old and mysterious too I feel.

  11. Beautiful painting, Keith. And thank you for the information. I might never be able to see this tree, sitting from where I am (or I may have seen it without knowing it I have), but I am glad I know a little about it now.

    1. Priya, thank you for visiting my humble blog and for your kind words. It’s always nice to have a new follower and your words are very much appreciated. I’m pleased you enjoyed my little painting. Thanks once again and please don’t be a stranger.

  12. Hi. I love your painting of the hawthorne, especially the way the grass flows one way. You should see the pitiful size of the hawthorns in our field, hardly bigger than waist-height. But they are beautiful… I love their sharp thorns and the red of the berries. Jane

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