MISTLETOE the ‘air-plant’
Mistletoe, its true name being Viscum Album, is synonymous with this time of year particularly with the tradition of ‘Kissing under the Mistletoe’.
There are many ancient mistletoe traditions, the best known being the Scandinavian legend Balder, the god of peace, who was killed by an arrow made from mistletoe and was resurrected by the other deities. The goddess of love was then entrusted with the
mistletoe and regarded it as symbol of love, hence, any person passing beneath shall receive a kiss. Mistletoe is an evergreen parasitic shrub with white viscous berries and of the natural order Loranthaceae. It is a native of Europe and North Asia and requires a host plant with which to grow on, such as an apple tree in the garden. Orchards benefit from the growing of mistletoe on their fruit trees, thus yielding a return during the winter months when the trees are dormant. This is what makes the mistletoe so unique, it is also known as an ‘air-plant’ that is it is not rooted to the ground but it attaches itself to other plants, the correct
name for such a plant is an Epiphyte, this word originating from the Greek words epi (upon) and phyton (plant).
The bark and the leathery mistletoe leaves are of a yellow-green colour and are oval- lance-shaped, mostly in pairs. In spring, there are inconspicuous yellow flowers which consist of four triangular sepals, a similar number of anthers and an ovary with simple stigma. This is followed by poisonous white berries, however, they are devoured by birds most notably the Mistle Thrush, the seeds becoming attached to the branches of trees by their agency. On germination the embryo pierces the bark and penetrates to the wood and here it draws most of its food from the tree, but it manufactures carbohydrates in its leaves.The constituents of mistletoe can vary due to the host plant with which it grows on
and it is believed the Druids regarded the mistletoe which grew on an Oak was the superior, although Oak being a rare host. It possible to grow your own mistletoe and there are numerous fact sheets and websites available including the following:
Timber decking construction in England has progressed rapidly within the last thirty years and evolved enabling more efficient, cost and labour saving methods. However, it is perceived that decking is a cheaper alternative to other methods of hard landscaping, such as various types of stone paving. This is not always the case as the work involved below the finished boards of deck can amount to more than 80% of time and labour. The square metre in total price of timber decking can equal that of a paved area, this does depend though on the nature of the site - a site survey would determine this.
Availability of specific materials, ironmongery and fixings mean the aesthetics of the finished deck have also improved considerably over the years, high tensile screws for attaching joists to posts without having to initially drill a pilot hole and decking screws coloured green to attach the deck boards all attribute towards a professionally built deck with minimal fixings visible.
Hardwood can be used for the decking boards but softwood is the more popular of the two and widely available, also no pilot holes are required for the screws when using softwood boards. The green decking screws, with the drill set accordingly will sit just below the top surface of the board and will be barely visible. It is advisable, if possible, to have the smoother side of the decking facing upwards and the surface with the most grooves to be on the underside, contrary to belief with regards to a better grip. Over time the grooves accumulate debris and moss and it makes it increasingly more difficult to clean in comparison to the smooth surface.
It is strongly advisable to power wash timber decking once a year, spring being the best time and in preparation for summer usage. Green Landscapes Cornwall operate a spring clean power wash service.
The vast amount of work which is not visible to the end product is vital to the safety and durability of the timber deck.
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