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Posted by sheiladearing on 04 Feb 2014 at 10:58 AM

Even now in late winter time the days are already lengthening and the precious sunlight is creeping over the cold earth warming the soil and bringing the promise of new life.  From times immemorial this is that vital period when, if man is to survive, he must plant the seeds for the crops which will grow through the coming months and allow his family to live and thrive.  Life for agrarian societies, dependent as they were on the land, was harsh and even mere existence was a tenuous affair.  Starvation was a constant threat in such people’s life.  Freshly sown seed and tender new growth were always in need of protection from the brutal forces of nature which conspired to destroy man’s future scarce resources of food.   Birds and especially the Corvid family have always plagued farmers, descending en masse on the freshly ploughed and sown winter fields to sate their voracious appetites on man’s hard won crops. 


Over hundreds of years we have expended great amounts of time, effort and invention on keeping our fields free of birds.  We have blasted them from the skies, terrified them with gas explosions and blinded them with reflected sunlight.  One of our greatest allies in this perpetual fight against the avian hoards has been the ever faithful scarecrow.  Man has been erecting likenesses of himself in the fields for as many years as he has tilled the soil.  The scarecrow stands sentinel like guarding our crops through all times of day, all weathers and all over the world.   Above and beyond his practical purpose the scarecrow preforms a deeper metaphysical role in our lives.  In the Far East he is consulted frequently as an all knowing creature capable of seeing into the future.  In Norse legend Odin was banished to the fields to perform the role of a scarecrow.  While thus banished he consulted with two ravens, Huginn (thought) and Muninn (memory), who used to perch on his shoulders and whisper advice in his ear.  In novels and films the poor ever faithful scarecrow has recently become the evil bogeyman capable of coming to life to murder, create mayhem and generally misbehave.   Every nation has its own word for the stalwart scarecrow.  In far off Japan he is known as Kuebiko.  Closer to home in Scotland he is the fearful Tattie Bogle used to frighten naughty children.  Here in Devon locals know him as the jollier sounding Murmet.


This month RHS Rosemoor needs an army of scarecrows to help them fight the airborne threat and protect the garden.  Come along to the marquee and join us in creating a crack team of scarecrows prepared to go into battle against the crows.  Bring your old unwanted clothes and use your imagination to come up with the most original Murmet.  Our scarecrows will be massing in the garden where they will be on display all month with a prize given for the people’s choice.

The Scarecrow Family Workshops are going on at RHS Garden Rosemoor, near Torrington from the 15 – 23 February.      


Harry ***


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