The Cottage Smallholder


stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

Mistletoe

cottage kitchen at night2.jpgI always used to buy mistletoe at Christmas. I like the tradition stretching back over the centuries. When I think of mistletoe and holly I imagine great halls, a good mix of happiness and people. Visitors kicking the snow off their boots and warming their hands on a vast log fire. Everyone enjoying the party. From the hosts to the children and dogs weaving between their legs.

Even when I lived alone I always arranged the mistletoe on the picture that hangs on thw wall behid the sofa. Secretly hoping that a white knight would drop by and see the mistletoe.

On the run up to our first Christmas together Danny observed my preparations with interest. When I returned triumphant from Newmarket, having finally found mistletoe, he face dropped as I draped it over the picture frame.
“If X and I sit on the sofa will she expect me to kiss her?”
“Of course not.”
Playing safe he stuck to the armchair for the day.

The cottage ceilings are so low that we don’t hang mistletoe just inside the front door. It would hit people in the face and give then a fright rather than providing an excuse for a hug and a kiss.

There is quite a bit of mistletoe growing in Cambridge. I spotted it on some trees in the botanical gardens a few Christmases ago. Probably 80 feet up and way out of reach.

I’m now working in Cambridge and there is mistletoe growing on a distant tree. Well, I think that it’s mistletoe. I don’t like to bring binoculars. It’s a very quiet road. I am sure my arrival has been noted by the neighbours. Jalopy usually causes quite a stir. When I took photographs of the tree this afternoon the net curtains opposite were suddenly alive with fluttering fingers.

I’d noticed that this tree was filled with birds. Small clusters dotted all over the branches. Larger birds on the sturdier branches and teeny bird drifting in and bouncing on the twigs at the top. It is like a fantasy tree in a children’s book. A sort of arboreal United Nations.

Loads of different small birds wait in line to eat from the feeders in the shrub outside our kitchen window. When a bigger bird appears such as a thrush or woodpigeon, all the smaller birds fly away immediately.

The size of the Cambridge tree is probably the answer. Or perhaps the city birds have just learnt to coexist happily with less space in between.

My photographs of the birds clustered in the mistletoe tree didn’t work. I was using my mobile telephone and it’s not great for distant views. So I’ve put up a picture of our nest. The kitchen window is the first thing I glimpse when I climb out of Jalopy at the end of the day.


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15 Comments

  1. Hi we’d like to grow our own too. Found a couple of websites www.mistle.co.uk and www.mistletoe.org.uk/home/mtoebuyngrow5.htm

    We’ll give that a go and let you know how we do. Great site – Paul

  2. Fiona Nevile

    Hello Susan and Kathryn

    I’m sorry but I don’t know where you can buy mistletoe berries.

    I bought my mistletoe in our village in the UK this year and have reserved the berries to try and grow some mistletoe on our old apple tree. February is the right time to set it in England.

    I’m not sure where you are both based. I know that mistletoe grows in Europe and America. Basically you need to find mistletoe growing on a tree and beg some berries from the owner of the tree. If it’s local to you, you will have a greater chance of it taking on your trees as it will be mistletoe acclimatised to your environment.

  3. Kathryn Leonardo

    I would like to grow mistletoe in my yard. Can you tell me where I can order cut mistletoe berries or mistletoe plants. Thank you. you tell me where I can order cut mistletoe berries of mistletoe plants. I live in Virginia, USA. Thank you.
    Kathryn Leonardo

  4. susan bach

    i would like to know where i can purchase mistletoe berries to try to grow at home. can you tell me where i can order these, thank you
    susan bach

  5. Fiona Nevile

    Hi nà

    It’s an interesting job, always different and surprising.

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