As the spring sunshine continues, the hawthorn bushes are starting to burst into flower. Small, white and numerous, they seem to froth all over the trees and have a sweet perfume.
Crataegus monogyna) is a familiar small tree in British hedgerows and is also known as May, Mayblossom, Quickthorn, Whitethorn and several other names. The small, red fruits - or Haws - which appear in the autumn are very important as they provide food for a number of birds, especially all of the thrush family and the winter's influx of waxwings.
Haws are also edible to humans and can be made into jams, and syrups. They can be used for wine making and to flavour brandy.
The old adage "N'er cast a clout 'till may be out" refers to the blossom of this tree and not - some people think - the month of May. So on this authority, it looks like we can all start to throw off our vests with wild, spring-like abandon!