05 November 2012

James And The Giant Mulberry

...not the giant peach :)

In an effort to become more independent from mainland Europe
(and perhaps another source of taxation)
King James I wanted to bring the silk industry to England

It's hard to say if the French deliberately misled King James I
by suggesting he plant the black mulberry (Morus nigra)
instead of the white one (Morus alba)
or if he just got the facts wrong

But unknowingly in 1608,
James I fervently issued an edict
encouraging the cultivation of the 'wrong' mulberry tree
as silkworms prefer leaves from the Chinese white mulberry

He offered packets of black mulberry seeds to anyone who would sow them,
making the tree fashionable at the time

Before his reign, few mulberry trees were recorded in England
and today, nearly all mulberry trees in England are of the Morus nigra variety

So although the silkworm industry proved unsuccessful,
James I did leave an arboreal legacy behind

William Shakespeare's home, New Place, in Stratford-Upon-Avon

Isn't this graceful, gnarled tree gorgeous?

It is likely
this one grew from a scion
of the original mulberry Shakespeare planted in 1609
directly from the garden of James I

{ Shakespeare also participated in King James I's coronation procession }

At the least, Shakespeare referred to the mulberry in
Coriolanus and A Midsummer Night's Dream

'Now humble as the ripest mulberry
That will not hold the handling.'
-Coriolanus, Act III, Scene ii

Shakespeare's tree was cut down by a following owner of New Place around 1752,
exasperated by showing the tree to so many visitors

Thankfully descendants of the famous tree remain at Kew Gardens
and again at Shakespeare's New Place

To think the Common Mulberry
has such an uncommon story

- all photos by me -



Sandra said...

I enjoyed reading the facts about the black versus the white mulberry trees! Well done for your historical research! It's always interesting to pop in! I love that first picture of the Mulberry tree. Pity about the silkworms though.
Have a great week.

Naturally Carol said...

I wonder how many people they have fed over the hundreds of years!

greenthumb said...

We used to pick Mulberries till our hands turned purple, then mum would make pies.

Jenny Woolf said...

What a miserable git, cutting down the mulberry tree! We have one in our garden but I always forget to collect the mulberries when the time comes.

flowers on my table said...

What a great history lesson, I didn't know this about the Mulberry. I have always loved the name, but never have I seen one or tasted the fruit. Love LInda x p.s. I love your new header, so cute!

Rustic Vintage Country said...

That was fascinating, I've learnt something quite new here. Thank you! x

Vintage Sheet Addict said...

I will never look at a Mullberry tree in quite the same way again! :)

Sarah @ Modern Country Style said...

What a brilliant post! I totally did not know that - shame on me!! But mulberries are very delicious indeed to pick straight from the tree when they're ripe!


flowers on my table said...

Hi Laura, glad you were soothed! We all need that. Thanks for popping in, love Linda x

Sarah Jane said...

I love Mulberries! And interesting tale behind them too, it would seem.
Have a good one xo

A little bit Country said...

I wonder if the nursery rhyme "here we go round the Mulberry bush" has anything to do King James I and the planting of all those trees?

paisleysummer said...

I love mulberries but didn't know that story x

Tammy Chrzan said...

Always wonderful knowledge on your blog and always wonderful photographs... And you look gorgeous in your photo!

ann said...

I have seen that tree at Shakespeare's birth place, but had no idea about the history. And I do like your new header. I was afraid that you had done away with the VW, which I love. If you do remember how you created it, remind me. I'd appreciate the information very much. Thank you for your kind offer. You might like to see the film on Emily Dickinson that I am showing this this week: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IaK_vtaCp5Y.

Happy Homemaker UK said...

I actually did run across the explanation of this nursery rhyme via http://www.kew.org/visit-kew-gardens/garden-attractions-A-Z/black-mulberry.htm

Black mulberry was historically planted in prison yards – the nursery rhyme 'Here we go round the mulberry bush' is thought to describe the daily exercise undertaken by inmates.

There you go :) Have a great day!! XOL

Happy Homemaker UK said...

Thank you so much ;)

Happy Homemaker UK said...

I'll send you an email. Thanks for the link - I look forward to checking it out :)

rosenrot said...

Dear Laura,
today I started a new attempt.
Thank you for following my blog :)
I hope you understand what I mean because my English is not good.
My last Englis leason is about 30 years ago!
Your post about mulbeery trees is interesting and I've learnt something new.
Enjoy the week and greeting from

rosenrot said...

Oh I forget something, please answer on my blog.
I don't have enough time to come back.
Thank you :))

Down by the sea said...

I haven't heard that story before it was so interesting. I love the old gnarled tree. We discovered a mulberry tree just up the road from us the fruit taste have such a wonderful taste, have you ever had any?
Sarah x

LindyLouMac in Italy said...

You always find such fascinating things to share here Laura, thankyou for another interesting post.

Iota said...

I was going to ask about the nursery rhyme too!

I've never eaten a mulberry, to my knowledge.

Happy Homemaker UK said...

I haven't - I'll have to give them a try :)