Tree of the Month in Sidmouth

Hawthorn gives stunning blossom in May

WE should not let May go by without admiring the variety of blossom on the May tree, writes Diana East.

We mostly see the white blossom of hawthorn in hedgerows, which is often mistaken for the thornier and earlier flowering blackthorn.

Becaue of their thorns, hawthorns are not so popular in our gardens, but their May blossom gives excellent value, followed by bright red haws in the autumn.

We have a double pink flowered hawthorn in our garden, known as Pauls Scarlet, which is probably nearing the end of its life of about 40 years, though it still produces a mass of bloom (pictured).

On Southway up Salcombe Hill, there are two very pretty young trees with stunning flowers. The petals are single deep pink with a white centre and black anthers, probably Crimson Cloud. (see photo).

One of these trees has white blossom on its lower branches, making it appear to have both pink and white blossom on the same tree. This is likely to be growth coming up from below the graft, and is a frequent problem with grafted trees. Hawthorns grow easily from seed but do not come true to the original tree.

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The hawthorn has many practical uses – it is an excellent hedging plant, as well as the haws being used for medicinal syrup and preserves.

Our best known local hawthorn is planted at the road junction above Salcombe Regis. The position is interesting in that if you turn downhill you go to the settlement, if you continue along then the land was open grazing in times past.

The newly planted tree is a welcome sight. How nice it would be if a colourful hawthorn could mark the entrance to Hawthorn Drive in Higher Woolbrook. Perhaps that is something that the Sidmouth Chamber of Commerce Arboretum Project could arrange.

*If you would like to know about the Arboretum Project or have an interesting tree in your garden, contact Diana East on (05603) 278 602 or email