Welcome!

My name is Jo Woolf and I live in Argyll, in a beautiful cottage overlooking the sea.  I’m a writer, and my husband, Colin, is a wildlife artist.  In our free time we head out to the wilder places:  mountains, islands, rocky coastline, sandy beaches…  Scotland is an amazing, breathtaking country, and I have visited some places that are as close to heaven as I’ll ever get in this lifetime.

Here under the Hazel Tree you’ll find posts about ancient sites – the landscape near our home is peppered with them, so expect lots of excitement! – as well as wildlife, wild flowers, occasional book reviews, and some feline silliness in the shape of my cats Purdey and Clyde.  (If you haven’t met Clyde, you will do so very soon!)

I love hearing from my readers, and I welcome your comments and suggestions.  It’s wonderful to meet people who share the same interests as me.  I want The Hazel Tree to be the kind of blog that I would like to read myself, so I hope you’ll enjoy it, too.

Why ‘The Hazel Tree’?

I think I’ve always had an affinity with hazels.   Every spring, I love looking for the first catkins braving the cold winds;  I love the smooth, silvery bark of the trees, the brilliant green of the first flush of leaves, and I love the pure air, the gentle restfulness that abides in the canopy of an ancient hazel wood.

In Celtic folklore, hazel nuts represented wisdom and poetic inspiration.  Hazel shafts were used for water divining, and this practice evolved into the making of pilgrims’ staffs, shepherds’ crooks and walking sticks.  Known as the Tree of Knowledge in Norse mythology, the hazel was sacred to the god Thor;  in Irish and Welsh folklore, the hazel was believed to be a fairy tree, and it still grows near many holy wells.  Tara, the seat of ancient Irish kings, was located close to a hazel wood;  and it is said that members of the Fianna, a legendary band of Irish warriors, learned to defend themselves with only a hazel stick and a shield.

According to the legends of the Fianna, a hazel tree grew beside the Well of Wisdom.  Nine hazel nuts fell into the pool and were eaten by salmon, a fish revered by the druids.  The fish developed bright spots on their scales according to how many nuts they had eaten.  Later, while cooking one of these fish for his druid master, a young lad called Fionn mac Cumhaill ate some of the salmon’s flesh;  in doing so, he gained the salmon’s magical knowledge and grew up to become one of the most heroic figures in Irish mythology.

So… whether you liken yourself to a druidic salmon, consuming the nuts of wisdom, or whether you just share my interest in the natural world, I hope you’ll find something to inspire you under the branches of The Hazel Tree!

Other things I do…

I’m honoured to be Writer in Residence at the Royal Scottish Geographical Society, and I visit their headquarters in Perth on a regular basis in search of fascinating stories of exploration which are held in the Society’s archives.   I contribute to their quarterly newsletter, ‘The Geographer’, and to their monthly email newsletter (both available to members);  and I’ve written a book called ‘The Great Horizon‘ which tells the stories of 50 amazing explorers over the Society’s 130-year history.   At the time of writing (spring 2018) I’ve just completed a lecture tour for the RSGS, speaking about the people who inspired the book.  I also write a column about Scottish explorers at History Scotland.

Website design by Verity Sansom – verity@sansomphotography.co.uk
‘The Hazel Tree’ logo design by Leonie Mead, Art & Sea

30 Comments
  • Watching Seasons

    Reply

    What a wonderful online magazine- I enjoy the layout and the articles (especially the historical ones)- such a pleasant way to explore the British Isles online!

    • Jo Woolf

      Thank you very much! It’s great to get such wonderful feedback. Hope you continue to enjoy it!

  • Tony William Powell

    Reply

    Incidentally as I type this, the Hazel Tree catkins are already showing themselves and dangling well as I’m informed by the UK Phenology Project. I run a phenology based blog myself, should you wish to visit.

    Kind Regards

    Tony Powell

    • Jo Woolf

      That’s a good sign, I hope spring is on the way. I’ll take a look at your site – sounds interesting.
      Jo

  • Robin Jean Marie

    Reply

    Lovely job with your online magazine, Jo! I did not know that hazelnuts represented wisdom and poetic inspiration–no wonder I like them.:-) You have a lot of interesting nuggets here. I’m glad to have found you.

    • Jo Woolf

      Thank you very much! I am delighted to hear that you enjoyed it and found it interesting. I appreciate your comment.

  • Stephanie Jill Rudd

    Reply

    Wonderful. You may be interested in one of my blogs: http://underneaththebanyantree.wordpress.com/about/

    • Jo Woolf

      Thank you, Stephanie, and for re-blogging it!

  • sequinsandcherryblossom

    Reply

    What a lovely blog! Beautiful layout too.

    • Jo Woolf

      Thank you very much, and thanks for following! 🙂

  • François

    Reply

    Such a beautiful blog! From The Garden Cat’s François and Gwendolen

    • Jo Woolf

      Thank you so much, Francois and Gwendolen! I really appreciate your comment. Welcome to The Hazel Tree!

  • edmooneyphotography

    Reply

    Hi Jo,I have nominated you for the Versatile Blogger award. I hope the you are able to accept. Please check out the rules on my blog,

    http://edmooneyphoto.wordpress.com/2013/04/22/2025/

    • Jo Woolf

      Hi Ed, That is so very kind of you! I will post about this as soon as I can – meanwhile I do appreciate your nomination and thank you very much once again.

  • Gallivanta

    Reply

    How lovely to learn the history and lore of the hazel nut tree. I wish I had paid more attention to the one that grew on my great grandmother’s farm. As a child my only interest was the hazel nuts themselves.

    • Jo Woolf

      🙂 I guess I was the same! But these things sink in at a deeper level sometimes. I’m glad you enjoyed reading about it!

  • Christa Thompson @ChristaTravels

    Reply

    Okay, this is super interesting. I had no idea the hazel tree was so rich in legend. I love the name of your blog. I’m glad we crossed here on the wordpress world. I will be coming by more often for sure. Great content 🙂

    • Jo Woolf

      Thanks very much, Christa! I was pleased to come across your blog, too. You’ve had some amazing experiences! I share your fascination with myths and folklore, and I believe there is so much wisdom that has been lost to us. Thanks for following, and I’ll be looking forward to reading your posts, as well!

  • tomog2015

    Reply

    I interesting blog ,Great online magazine Sure we will hear more of your Dowsing experiences lovely pics .
    My Pendulum gives a positive response !

    • Jo Woolf

      Hi Tom, Thanks a lot for that! I so enjoyed that dowsing course – and loving the DVDs too. 🙂 I’m sure you’ll hear more – got a nice little pair of rods now, handbag size!

      • tomog2015

        Jo Dowsing is very addictive in a nice way !

  • flahertylandscape

    Reply

    And then the scientific revolution came. They threw the baby out with the bath water. And thanks to your efforts Jo, we are learning again how important plants are to humans. They are not things. They are portals. Thank you!

    • Jo Woolf

      Very true, Edward – science and wisdom are sometimes worlds apart! I am learning a lot myself through this blog – it’s an ongoing process. Thank you so much for your kind comment! 🙂

  • Mary

    Reply

    Mice gnaw a round hole in the Hazel nut, squirrels split them neatly in half…

    • Jo Woolf

      Haha, thanks for that tip! 🙂

  • Bruce Clifton

    Reply

    Hi Jo, what a beautiful site and an amazing array of beautifully presented information, I have spent best part of an hour here and still need to spend more time.

    Bless you for your writing.

    Please excuse the plug I hope it is of interest to you and your readers.
    https://www.thespiritualcentre.com/the-hazel-tree–coll.html

    • Jo Woolf

      Hi Bruce, that’s very kind, and thank you! I am so glad to hear you enjoy my site. Thank you for sharing your own – I will enjoy taking a look! 🙂

Please leave a reply

%d bloggers like this: