Welcome!

My name is Jo Woolf and I live on the Craignish peninsula in Argyll.  I’m a writer, and my husband, Colin, is a wildlife artist.  In our free time we explore the mountains, islands, rocky coastline, sandy beaches…  Scotland is an amazing, breathtaking country, and I’ve visited some places that are as close to heaven as I’ll ever get in this lifetime.

Your comments and suggestions are very welcome.  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 look 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.

Traditionally, hazels were trees of knowledge and poetic inspiration.  An Irish legend tells how a hazel tree grew beside the Well of Wisdom;  nine hazel nuts fell from the tree 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.

You can read more about hazels in this post on The Hazel Tree

Other things I do…

I’ve written a book entitled Britain’s Trees – A Treasury of Traditions, Superstitions, Remedies and Literature, published by The National Trust.  This book looks at some of Britain’s best-known species of tree (both native and introduced) and reveals the often curious and colourful traditions that are attached to them, together with practical uses, herbal remedies, literary references and all kinds of weird superstitions!   I’m now working on another book in the same series, about Britain’s birds.

I’m honoured to be Writer in Residence at the Royal Scottish Geographical Society, and in 2018 I received the Honorary Fellowship of the Society.  Much of my work involves reading about the lives and adventures of explorers past and present;  my book The Great Horizon tells the stories of 50 of these incredible people.  Many of the greats are in here – Scott, Shackleton, Amundsen, Nansen, Hillary – but also some lesser-known names, among them some inspiring and courageous women.  I also write blog posts for RSGS, and articles for their quarterly newsletter, ‘The Geographer’.

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

34 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! 🙂

  • Lucille Manning

    Reply

    Thank you Jo, I came accross your website by accident while searching for Ausgta P. Hay. He was the Prior of Piermont several centuries ago. My Grandmother was a Hayes and Im following up on her and my fathers geneology from where they left off. I came upon your artilce on Rosslyn Chapel and I couldn’t help but stop and read every word, as it interest me very much. I will be coming back to read even more as your subject of Scotland intrigues me so very much.Thank You again for a wonderful evening of reading.. I will be coming back to read even further.
    Lucille Manning Hope, Arkansas USA.

    • Jo Woolf

      Hi Lucille, so nice to hear from you and thank you for your lovely comment! Really glad you enjoyed the article about Rosslyn – what an amazing place it is, and so crammed full of history (and mystery!) Your family research sounds very interesting!

  • Ashley

    Reply

    Hi Jo! It’s been a long time since I followed you, so long that I didn’t realise that I was reading you again! Is this a new site? It is wonderful and a joy to read. So fresh and inviting. I only found it because I Googled “Atlantic hazel woods” and found your review of a book by Clifton Bain (I might just buy it). Strange how things go round and round! I’ve been reading Jim Crumley’s “Nature of” books (Spring, Autumn and Winter) and his reference to these hazel woods (in Winter) intrigued me. I live in Northern Ireland and want to find out more about them on this island and as a lover of trees (and a bit of history) I’ve joined your mailing list. It’s lovely to make your acquaintance again!

    • Jo Woolf

      Hi Ashley, great to hear from you again! Thank you for your lovely comments. I’m glad you found me by looking for Atlantic hazel woods. We’re lucky to live close to some here, especially on Seil island at Ballachuan. There’s nothing quite like them. Yes, I gave the site a new look (with my daughters’ help) in 2018 when we moved over to Argyll. Glad you like it, I was pleased with it myself!

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