Ne’er cast a clout till may be out – Old May Sayings

Hawthorn-tree-blossomEver heard the old saying ‘Ne’er cast a clout till May be out’ ? It's a great old May saying, so I thought it might be interesting to look at what the old phrase actually means and what significance it has with us passing into the summer months now.

First, if we take the ‘clout’ part; since around the 15th century the word ‘clout’ has had a few possible meanings. It could mean either a knock on the head, a clump of earth or a part of clothing or clothing itself’. For this ‘ne’er cast a clout’ we assume it to mean clothing, so taken as a phrase would simply mean ‘don’t take off your winter clothing until the end of May’

Another possible interpretation of the ‘until May is out’ part is actually until the hawthorn tree is out in flower. The Hawthorn tree is unmissable in May, with its beautiful and delicate flowers, in this case the ‘May be out’ could very well be an allusion to the flowering on the synonymous Hawthorn Tree.

Whatever the actually reason, the basic meaning of this is fairly obvious – i.e. we are likely to experience bad weather (or at least assume that despite these few glorious days there WILL be showers and bad days too). This more often than not proves itself to be true – take for example this May, we’ve had it all here in Manchester; glorious near high summer days, extreme showers, weeks without a drop of rain, wind and even hail stones!

This good simple advice, whilst applicable to our clothing matters, also has its place when guiding us in how we care for our trees. May is a time when you need to be vigilant -you can’t be certain all that lovely weather is here to stay and its plain sailing into summer. Not enough rain and your trees and plants will suffer. Or the good weather will lull you into a false sense of security and suddenly a late frost scuppers your plans for the year ahead.

Hope you have enoyed today's blog post, as always feel free to leave a comment.

Buy one of our lovely Hawthorn Tree Gifts in May.