Friday, 16 September 2011

"Here we go round the mulberry bush..."

Well it wasn't a cold and frosty morning today, actually it was the nicest weather of the week so far, but I did go round a mulberry bush!  Hands up who remembers this nursery rhyme and action song.  Does anyone else think of the rhyme when they see a mulberry bush?  Now for those of you who don't know this English rhyme, perhaps instead of "hands up" I should have said, "lets all join hands" (or pretend we are) and sing...

"Here we go round the mulberry bush,
the mulberry bush, the mulberry bush,
Here we go round the mulberry bush,
On a cold and frosty morning!"

I can just imagine us all dancing round our computers, well as mine is in a cupboard I shall be dancing around the dining table! 

Ready for the next verse...

"This is the way we 'brush our hair',
Brush our hair, brush our hair,
This is the way we 'brush our hair',
On a cold and frosty morning!"

We can alternate the chorus and verses as many times as you like, well until we are all worn out!  I recall, 'wash our face', 'put on our clothes' but anything with an action will do!

I have to say that I can't remember ever seeing a mulberry bush before today and you will never guess where it was.  You couldn't really say it was a bush, definitely a tree and as to where it was - in the grounds where I work!  I must have walked past it dozens of times before but never seen a fruit on it then when I happened to walk that way today there were lots of berries.


Mulberry bush popped into my head right away but having never seen one I wasn't totally sure.  Whilst still admiring it and discussing it with my friend another member of staff came out of the nearest building and confirmed it was a mulberry and that it had been fruiting for the last six weeks!  He also told us that when the ground around it had been sorted recently (it was very overgrown), they found part of an original plaque, this has been incorporated into a new plaque.  I thought I hadn't seen it before! Apparently there was a line of six mulberry trees but only the one left now which does seem rather sad.

The sun was shining right on the plaque but it says, "Planted for Shakespeare Commemoration Day 3rd May 1916".  The closest building was originally a school in 1916 so it must have been planted by them. I wonder if the children then danced and sang around their new trees?  I am not sure what ages they would have been at the school then.  Latterly it was a secondary school before the school became incorportated into another and the premises are now owned by the University. 

I have never heard of  'Shakespeare Day' and having had a quick look on Google the only things that come up are the 23rd April (being the date of his birth and death) and references to how things were in 'Shakespeare's day'. Perhaps it was just an event held at that school or maybe some of you can enlighten me?  Regretably I didn't learn any Shakespeare at school as there was a government initiative at the time for us to be taught modern English literature, I am glad that it didn't last and that my children are all familiar with at least some of his works. A search for 'Shakespeare and mulberry tree' reveals that apparently Shakespeare planted a mulberry tree in his garden at Stratford on Avon, one site even suggested that it was a cutting from a mulberry tree planted by James I.

I discovered there is even a special mulberry tree website showing the location of mulberry trees in the UK.  Our lucky American friends apparently have lots of mulberries, they grow wild and are considered a nusiance in places, so perhaps more like our blackberry bushes.

This tree instantly bought back childhood memories of mulberries, as when I was young my father worked for some years at a place where they had a mulberry bush and after eating his lunch would collect mulberries in his lunch box to bring home for us.  Today,  annoyingly and rather like blackberry picking, all the best fruit are always out of reach!  Only the very dark ones, almost black, are ripe. We did manage to pick a few though and they were delicious, very juicy.  I was seriously wondering about taking a step ladder there but a little bit more research reveals shaking the tree is the answer!  This should let ripe mulberries drop. Better make sure I take my tupperware!


  1. What a lovely lot of history and story in one post! My friend has a mulberry tree in her garden and the chickens often have their run st up under it. A French friend told her this was traditional in France and that the tree is traditionally known as a 'chicken tree' because of this! The fruits are a bit of a nuisance when you park under the trees - I know from experience. And the wasps gather, so the modern French don't like the mulberry trees too much. But for us they are a great experience! Son 1 discovered that one of his gerbils (since sadly expired) loved mulberries! Kind of cute...

    Thanks for your comment today.

  2. What a beautiful tree (bush?)... I remember that rhyme well! Your post has brought back some lovely memories, thank you! ... and thank you for your lovely comments on my recent post about my boys starting school :)

    Take care
    Louise xx

  3. This is incredible - in fact, I'm embarrassed to even admit to it. You have made me open my eyes!
    We have a "murier" tree in our backgarden here in France. I have been so used to calling it the French way I had no idea (or even thought about looking it up) it's equivalent in English.
    We have to do a dance around it, I think! Thanks so much, Sue, for the revelation. The only problem is that the birds eat them all here. Boohoo...

  4. Obviously plenty of mulberry trees or bushes in France, and if they are known as 'chicken trees' then I am guessing that the chickens must eat them, especially if Floss's son's gerbil liked them. The berries are VERY juicy and a wonderful colour, so I think you ought to fight the birds off some Jill so you can try them in macarons, they are a lovely flavour. Could you put a net over just a few branches?