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.