Wind, Water and Willows

An Alternative Alder

Welcome to the 3rd month of the year on our ‘Celtic Tree Calendar’ (March 18th to April 14th) 🙂

As I have already written about our native British Alder (Alnus glutinosa) last year I thought I would make this post about one of its far eastern cousins – the Nepalese Alder (Alnus nepalensis).

As shown by its name, this tree is a native of Nepal, growing in the subtropical regions of the Himalayas which also includes Pakistan, India, Tibet, Yunnan, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar and Thailand.

File:Alnus nepalensis (6364064339).jpg
Author Dinesh Valke

Like the British Alder it grows very well in wet areas such as alongside streams, but the Nepalese Alder, whilst tolerating a wide variety of soil types, actually grows best on moist volcanic loam.

These magnificent trees can reach up to 30 metres in height and 60cm in diameter with a silver-grey bark, shallow-toothed leaves and both male and female catkins which flower in the autumn, seeding in the following year.

Nepalese Alders are also fast-growing and are planted to prevent soil erosion, its root nodules are also nitrogen fixers. The wood being moderately soft, is highly valued by the local indigenous people and mostly used as firewood and for making charcoal, but also in light construction and for making boxes.

Wishing you all a very happy month!

Kim x


The Mighty Ash

According to the Celtic Tree Calendar we are now in the month of the Ash tree or ‘Nuinn’ as it is known in the Ogham. (Feb 18th – Mar 17th)

In Norse mythology the World Tree’ Yggdrasil is said to be an Ash tree, it is also believed that the first man ‘Ask’ was formed from the Ash. Some sources say that the first woman ‘Embla’ was formed from a Rowan tree which is also commonly known as the ‘Mountain Ash’ due to the similarity of its leaves to those of true Ash trees.

“All Life is figured by them as a Tree. Igdrasil, the Ash-tree of Existence, has its roots deep down in the kingdoms of Hela or Death; its trunk reaches up heaven-high, spreads its boughs over the whole Universe: it is the Tree of Existence.

At the foot of it, in the Death-kingdom, sit Three _Nornas_,Fates,–the Past, Present, Future; watering its roots from the Sacred Well. Its “boughs,” with their buddings and disleafings?–events, things suffered, things done, catastrophes,–stretch through all lands and times. Is not every leaf of it a biography, every fibre there an act or word? Its boughs are Histories of Nations.

The rustle of it is the noise of Human Existence, onwards from of old. It grows there, the breath of Human Passion rustling through it;–or storm tost, the storm-wind howling through it like the voice of all the gods. It is Igdrasil, the Tree of Existence.”

Thomas Carlyle 1795-1881

But bringing us back into the world of the Celts, it is also St Patrick’s Day on the last day of this ‘lunar month’ and here we have a connection – it is said that Saint Patrick used a stick made of Ash wood to drive the snakes out of Ireland.  As there is no evidence to suggest that (post-glacial) Ireland has ever been home to any snakes, this legend most likely refers to him driving paganism out of Ireland – serpents representing the energy of the Goddess.   

Another legend tells us that the town of Aspatria (Ash Tree of Saint Patrick) in Cumbria acquired its name when the Saint, whilst preaching in the area, thrust his staff into the ground – as he always did – only this time his message took so long to get through to the people that the staff actually took root!

Here’s a snippet of folklore regarding the Ash from the late Henrietta Munro, Caithness author and historian …

 ‘If you have an ash in the garden and you want to cut it down, please ask its permission first – otherwise it will curse you. Never use ash twigs for your pea sticks as they will harm the plants and take all the good out of the soil. Ash makes splendid firewood – remember the old rhyme “ash new or ash old is fit for a queen with a crown of gold”.

Wishing you ALL the VERY BEST for the coming month 😉

Kim X

Happy Imbolc!

Many apologies for being several days late with this – firstly having not been able to get online for almost a week due to my internet provider having issues with a broken undersea cable! .. and then losing half of the post when trying to save! Hopefully this will be ‘3rd time lucky’! 😉

Imbolc is the one of the old Celtic sun festivals (or cross-quarter days), marking the beginning of Spring and is usually celebrated on the 1st or 2nd February; falling midway between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox.

Revived in the 20th Century by the Neo-Pagan movement it is sometimes celebrated a few days later, when the sun is 15 degrees into Aquarius – this year that happened on the 4th – you can check the astronomical/astrological date on an online epheremis like this one on

It is also known as Saint Brigid’s Day – which is most probably the Christianised festival of the Celtic Goddess Brigid or Bride

I could go on to write a lot more about Imbolc in general here but as there is already so much info on the internet already I would much rather talk about it in relation to Ogham and also some local lore ..

According to Robert Graves’ Celtic tree calendar we are now in the time of ‘Luis’ or Rowan (21st Jan – 17th Feb) – you can read a little about the Rowan under my section on ‘The Trees’ The Old Gaelic word ‘Luis’ is thought to derive from either ‘luise ‘meaning ‘flame’ or ‘lus’ which is ‘herb’.

Young Rowan tree – Castletown Community Woodlands, Castletown, Caithness, Scotland.

Looking at the ‘Word Oghams’ of the Scholar’s Primer – which is our original source for the meanings behind the Ogham letters – we have various interpretations:

From Morann Mac Mainn – a famous judge and poet …

Luis – Li sula, delight of eye, that is luis, quicken tree, l, to wit, the flame. (Also translated as the colour of vision by others)

From the famous warrior Cuchulain

Luis – Luth Cethra I Leam, strength of cattle

From Oenghus – a god of love and poetic inspiration …

Luis – Cara ceathra, friend of cattle, elm. Cara, dear to the cattle is the elm for its bloom and for down. Hence it was put for the Ogham luis, quicken tree, l, for hence was quicken tree, l, put for it.

Connections to Imbolc and the Goddess(or Saint) Brigid can be seen in the above – flames and cattle with the celebratory heath fires, Brigid’s flame and her protection of cattle. 

According to the late author and local historian Henrietta Munro of Caithness …

‘You should always have a rowan tree in the garden – preferably near the gate to keep witches away; and farmers were always told to keep a cross made of rowan branches above the byre door so that witches could not take the freit from the milk.’

Some Folklore about Plants and Flowers 

 Image courtesy of Theresa Knott

These crosses are known as ‘Brigid’s Crosses’ and are said to derive from the pagan ‘sunwheel’ – they are traditionally made on 1st February and are believed to protect houses from fire and evil when hung up in the kitchen or above the front door.

So there’s just a few snippets for you – for more information I would recommend the following ..

Imbolc ~ Wikipedia

Celtic Ritual – Celtic Sacred Calendar

Imbolc ~ February Eve ..

The Brighid Oracle by Ceri Norman

Yes Spring IS finally in the air! 🙂

Kim x

New Beginnings

First off a very Happy New Year to ALL ! 

I do hope that 2023 is going to be a really good one for all of us!

According to the ‘Tree Calendar’ we are still in the month of Birch or Beith as it is called in Old Irish Gaelic. 

Beith is all about new beginnings – the first tree of the Ogham – so very appropriate for this time of year.  You can read about Beith on my page ‘The Trees’ but here are a few more interesting facts and tidbits about Birch ..

Scottish place names such as Cowdenbeath, Dunbeath, Glen an Beithe and Cnoc Beithe are all associated with birch trees – Dunbeath in Caithness for example translates as ‘fort near the birch trees’ and is the birthplace of the much celebrated writer Neil Gunn

“Time became a stilled heart-beat. Stealthy, climbing sounds. Finn’s body drew taught, heaved up onto supporting palms. Whisperings, the movement of the top of a small birch-tree here and there whose trunk was invisible hands gripped. The hunters in their primordial humour were closing in. Life had come for him.”

Neil Gunn – The Silver Darlings

For more information about Neil Gunn visit or watch the film ‘A Light in the North’ here  Other place names associated with birch trees are those with the more Scandinavian influenced ‘birk’ or ‘berk’ in their composition – so Birkenhead, Birkhall and Berkhampstead for example. 

The name of singer/songwriter Bjork also translates as ‘Birch’ in Icelandic 😉

‘The Birks of Aberfeldy’ is a song written by Robert Burns. Burns was inspired to pen this work after a visit to the then ‘Den of Moness’ in Perthshire which was subsequently renamed after the song and is just one of the many beautiful places you can visit in ‘The Big Tree Country’

‘Burns Night’ is celebrated on the 25th of this month 🙂

Once again a Very Happy New Year to you ALL!

Fruit of the Vine

So here I am playing ‘catch up’ again after being away visiting family in my home island of Jersey, C.I. … 🇯🇪🌞 I took plenty of tree photos whilst I was there which can be seen here on my Facebook page 🙂📷🌳🌲🌴

‘Vine time’, according to Grave’s calendar, started on the 2nd September ..

Most of September is dedicated to Muinn the Vine on the ‘Celtic Tree Calendar’ but sometimes you will see Bramble in place of Vine for Muinn – this is because it is it is considered to be the closest equivalent for those living in the more northerly climes 😉

Also grape vines were not introduced to Britain until the Romans arrived and the climate was a lot warmer than it is now.  Vineyards flourished in much of Britain right up until the second part of the 16th Century when temperatures began to drop again. 

You can still see the descendants of original Roman vines growing at The Roman Palace of Fishbourne in West Sussex and the wine Wrotham Pinot is made from this variety of grape.

Vine is the only cultivated ‘tree’ of the Ogham and being an introduced species had to be treated with meticulous care in order for it to survive and produce enough fruit. 

In Celtic art you will often see the ‘spiralling vine’ – no doubt a symbol for them of evolutionary growth, expanding awareness and connection with the Divine.

Lions and Intertwining Vines in the Book of Kells

Of course getting merry on the wine produced would also have been regarded as a route to ‘Divine inspiration’ but as we all know exhilaration can so easily be lost when we over indulge so the Vine also encourages “all things in moderation” 😋🍷  

Muinn also symbolises completion of work and its rewards .. so in effect ‘harvesting’ which is very appropriate for this time of year.  

September’s full moon is known as the Harvest Moon (the full moon closest to the Autumnal Equinox) and this year it  falls on Tuesday 21st at 00:55hrs  so why not celebrate by treating yourself to a nice juicy bunch of grapes!🍇😜  … well we do have to be sensible now don’t we! 😉 

Have a Great (rest of) September!

Kim  x

La Mare Wine Estates ~ Jersey, C.I.