"It was a fascinating talk and received really well by our members, we were talking mistletoe all night in the pub afterwards!"
Mistletoe is extraordinary - a plant with unusual biology, peculiar winter customs dating from prehistory, a strange visual symmetry, ancient and modern medicinal usage, value (and nuisance value!) in agriculture and horticulture, links to traditional orchards, and important roles in wildlife conservation and biodiversity.
These properties make it a very popular subject for talks with a wide range of audiences including wildlife groups, history societies, orchard campaigns, and horticultural clubs.
"Your talk was absolutely fascinating... the members wholeheartedly agree.... I thought the mixture of saga, fashion and design, botany and garden-lore (and risqué postcards!) was tremendous - and several people came up afterwards to say this"
This page outlines some of the mistletoe talks, walks and workshops available from Mistletoe Matters. Scroll down or use the index links below for more information.
"Your talk was so well received that several members have asked me to invite you again."
Jonathan Briggs is available for talks on (virtually) everything to do with mistletoe. Regular audiences include wildlife trusts, gardening clubs/horticultural societies, history societies, WIs, U3A groups, and local branches of the National Trust etc.
Talks can be tailored to your group's interests, or kept more generic. The popular 'Mistletoe Miscellany' presentation can cover almost everything - typically including What is Mistletoe?, Mistletoes Worldwide, Traditions and Legends (Norse, Greek, Druidic, Christian, Modern), Habitats and Hosts, Parasitic biology, UK distribution, Conservation and Biodiversity value, Control, Mistletoe Medicines, Art Nouveau, Harvest and trade, and Growing Your Own.
"Thank you so much for giving such a splendid talk on mistletoe. Members have commented about how much they enjoyed it and it was a perfect start to the Christmas season."
Most groups look for a date in the run-up to Christmas - and anytime from October onwards usually seems to work well. But New Year and early spring (to the end of March) suit nicely too - particularly for gardening groups, as that's the time when mistletoe seeds should be planted. For talks in this period a supply of berries, and planting instructions, can be provided.
"An absorbing and comprehensive talk... such a fascinating subject."
All talks use computer slide projection, with Mistletoe Matters providing all the equipment needed. Bookings are taken up to 3 years in advance - contact us for availability.
Fees vary according to the audience, but we aim to be give good value for small groups and charities. Expenses are charged according to mileage. Distance is no object within reason, but round trips of more than 150 miles will probably involve an overnight stay (especially for evening talks in the midwinter period). Contact us for more information on fees.
"Thank you for an amazing talk"
"I enjoyed it so much I was wondering if you have any more walks or talks planned in the coming months"
We also organise occasional walks, led by Jonathan Briggs, in 'Mistletoe Country'. These are usually in conjunction with clients such as the National Trust, Plantlife International and the Wildlife Trusts.
The best locations are within the core mistletoe areas of Herefordshire, Worcestershire, Gloucestershire and Somerset, and the best way to get close to mistletoe in these areas is within apple orchards.
"It was a fascinating look at a plant that we so much take for granted - much enjoyed."
Winter is the obvious season for these walks, either before Christmas (when harvesting and control techniques can be demonstrated, with samples taken home for Christmas) or, more commonly, after Christmas when mistletoe planting techniques can be demonstrated in the field, with your own berries to take home to plant afterwards.
"As ever, you opened a door on a fascinating world and several people have since said how much they enjoyed it."
Our preferred locations for walks (with easy access to car parking and refreshment facilities) are some specific sites in Herefordshire and the Severn Vale in Gloucestershire, though other areas can be considered. The walking distances involved are short (about 3 miles) and over lowland terrain (some stiles etc) with frequent stops to chat about mistletoe along the way.
Most of our walks are facilitated through organised groups and only open to their members but private commissions are possible too. Fees vary according to the type of group.
"Not only very interesting but also entertaining... divided up so that there was something of interest for everyone in the audience."
"Your talk was fascinating and held the members spellbound. Mistletoe is fairly common around here... but you put a different perspective on the stuff... I can assure you we now look rather differently on our lovely parasite."
Since 2005 Mistletoe Matters have been running mistletoe workshops for a variety of groups and organisations - including orchard conservation groups, the National Trust, the Conservation Volunteers and the Wildlife Trusts at sites across southern England and Wales.
Themes have ranged from mistletoe management and harvesting right through to new mistletoe planting and conservation work. Some have been a mixture of all these subjects.
"Thank you so much for giving us your time, effort and specialised knowledge of the subject in such an excellent presentation. It was very well received and much appreciated."
Most workshops take place in early spring and most are organised in conjunction with other groups. The picture above (by Henry Johnson) shows an event at the Orchard Skills Centre at Days Cottage in Gloucestershire.
If you want to commission a workshop for your own group do let us know. To cover all practical aspects (harvest, control and planting) the best season would be February or March. Suitable venues are limited, so please give as much notice as possible.
"Wow, what a lot we all learnt! I have had a number of people say how much they enjoyed it and how informative they found it."