April has arrived, Spring has officially sprung, and here at Green Farm we’re delighted to see the millions of tiny white blooms bursting out from the spiny shrubs in our hedgerows.
The hedgerow, a dormant tangle for so long, has suddenly come alive. Early to flower, the blackthorn provides a valuable source of nectar and pollen in Spring. Its foliage is a food source for the caterpillars of many moths and butterflies. Here at Sloemotion HQ, you’ll often hear Founder Joff using the phrase “if you love Sloe Gin, you’ve gotta love moths!” Butterflies & bees get all the plaudits, but the moths do the heavy lifting when it comes to blackthorn pollination.
So, when the fabulous blossom is out, the moths are busy drinking the nectar and inadvertently pollinating the plants, thereby creating plenty of sloes for us later on in September. Seeing lots of moths, butterflies and insects in general is a good indicator of a healthy biodiversity and environment.
The blackthorn is also a refuge for the birds, providing protection from the still-harsh winds and deterring predators, and granting security for the eggs and nestlings.
Whilst it was once thought of as a plant that would bring bad luck upon any house that takes the blossoms through its door, we think it is a culinary and horticultural wonder. Often portrayed as the villain in fairy tales throughout Europe, we hail Blackthorn as the unsung hero. It is the produce of the beautiful blossom, that comes in the Autumn, which will become clusters of rich purple sloes. We steep the sloes to produce our Sloe Gin, and its stones are one of the botanicals in our Hedgerow Gin.
The blackthorn blossom may arrive with a shiver at the end of winter but it proclaims the arrival of spring and reminds us of the bounties of the nature around us.