Thursday, August 21, 2014

Guelder Rose/ Almindelig Kvalkved

Guelder Rose, Bjerre skov/gb

Viburnum opulus

When winter comes and most fruits have fallen from the trees, the Guelder Rose still stands with its fine red fruits and richly coloured autumn leaves. The shrub forms underwood and edges in mixed hardwood forests in wet and mineral rich soil all over Europe. It thrives both in full sun and half shadow and stands wind and frost.

Guelder Rose, Bjerre skov/gb

It has got a lot of names in English: Cramp bark / Cranberry tree / Dog rowan tree / European cranberry bush / Guelder rose / High cranberry / Highbush cranberry / King's crown / May rose / Pempina / Pimpina / Rose elder / Silver bells / Snowball Tree / Water elder / Whitsun bosses / Whitsun rose / Whitten Tree / Wild Guelder rose.

The Guelder Rose was earlier ascribed to the honeysuckle-family, (like snowberry and elder) but genetic studies under Angiosperm Phylogeny Group have shown that it belongs to the Adoxaceae-family. The botanical name is Viburnum opulus. It is a species of Viburnum native to Europe and Asia. The common name Guelder Rose appears to have originated because a popular cultivar, the snowball tree, supposedly first originated in the Dutch province of Guelderland.
The White flowers of Guelder rose(wikipedia )

The white flowers are pollinated by various insects; the inflorescence reminds about the hydrangea. The seeds are dispersed by birds, and the leaves are often eaten by caterpillars. The shrub is also cultivated as a component of hedgerows, coverplantings, and as part of other naturalistic plantings in its native regions. Guelder Rose is a good bush in the garden, not just because of the fruits, but it is a good hiding place for birds and their nests. Guelder rose is spread both by seeds and root-suckers. Berry-eating birds ar very fond of the berries, especially winter birds like fieldfare and Bohemian waxwing. The berries are poisonous to humans. The leaves are often eaten by caterpillars.

Kvalkved/Guelder rose, Vestamager, Sjælland/gb
From September it stands with red glistening fruits which stay at the bush until January-February. First when the fruits begin to rot, they are very much sought after by birds.

The fruit is actually considered poisonous, but however used in some countries to make jelly. It is  very mildly toxic, and may cause vomiting or diarrhea if eaten in large amounts (Plants for a Future).

 Practical use. The berries have anti-scorbutic properties. They turn black in drying and have been used for making ink. The wood was used for combs making combs in looms, tobacco pipes etc. From the straight branches were made pipe tubes and walking sticks, the strongest branches were used to make knitting needles. 

The berries were used as baits in bird traps.

Folk Medicine: The dried bark was used in a tincture, known as "Cramp Bark," to alleviate painful menstrual cramps.This herb was mainly used for treating feminine problems like menstrual cramps, postpartum discomfort, preventing miscarriages and internal hemorrhages and was used as a uterine sedative also.

The Nix ( Theodore Kittelsen, Norway 1904/wikipedia
Folklore: In Danish its common name is Kvalkved, an old name is Ulvsrøn and in folklore it is called Vand-hyld (Water-Elder). The God in the water stream, Noekken,  (the Nix) was said to lie in wait for people under the water-elder, playing enthralling music. The Nix was most dangerous to women and children.
If people had a stick of Guelder rose in their pocket, the underworld had no power over them.

Source: Brøndegaard, Etnobotanik, Folk og flora; Danmarks natur; Gyldendal, Politikens havebog, samt Wikipedia. 

photo Bjerre skov, Horsens in September : grethe bachmann
photocopy  from wikipedia

Friday, August 15, 2014

Women and Cats.....................

Women and cats will do as they please, and men and dogs should relax and get used to the idea.

Robert A. Heinlein.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Svinkløv Badehotel, North Jutland

A Taste of Denmark.

Svinkløv Badehotel (Seaside Hotel) is one of the country's few intact relics from the fashionable seaside- and holiday life which became a must around the year 1900. The hotel is looking exactly like it was then, and the pretty main building is one of Denmark's biggest preserved wooden houses.


The position of the hotel is unique in a large preserved area and a beautiful nature far away from other habitation and less than 200 m from the North Sea.


All rooms are in light colours and Scandinavian interior  - and furthermore smokeless zones. The hotel is marked by alternative arts and crafts exhibitions. Svinkløv is famous for its excellent food, the cuisine has a very high standard with new menues and specialities every day.

photo: grethe bachmann

The Legend of the Holy Grail in a Danish Church

Viking Age
Skibet Church, Vejle

Skibet church, 'Rytterfrisen' (The Horsemen's Frieze') 1100s

(Above the Horsemen's frieze are two scenes from the New Testament, to the left Lazarus and to the right Christ and the disciples.)

During the ruling period of Valdemar Sejr and Valdemar the Great - between 1157 and 1241 - about 2000 stone churches were built inside the present borders of Denmark. (1700 old churches still exist.) The building activity was immense all over the country ; much influence and inspiration came from abroad, and some of it came from England. English master builders, stone masons and artists arrived - and they were responsible for some fine Anglo-Normannic inspired churches, especially in the north western part of Jutland.

One English artist might have travelled a little further down south - and he arrived to the location Skibet in the eastern part of Jutland, where a little stone church was built in the middle of the 1100s. Here he was possibly  the creator of some magnificent frescoes called 'Rytterfrisen' (The Horsemen's Frieze') , which is unprecedented in Denmark.

Skibet church. Two saddled horses and some horsemen riding slowly and with dignity to the north.

Skibet church. Some gallopping horsemen moving towards the jar, considered to be the key to the story. Behind is a city or a temple.

Hornslet Church, Aarhus

Hornslet church: A fully armed knight rides toward west, the crowned bedridden man recieves the Holy Communion from a cleric.

In Hornslet church north of Århus are frescoes from the first half of the 1200s, telling a similar story like in Skibet. It's a unique phenomenon that Jutland unlike the eastern part of Denmark is able to show those spectacular and dramatic scenes with horsemen.

The interpretation is open in both cases. Some have suggested that the story is from the colourful tale about the prophets - but both before and now it is believed that the frescoes are about the legend of the Holy Grail, which was known in Denmark already in the Viking period.

Hornslet church: A little angel in a medaillon above the window might represent the Grail with the blood of Christ, and the crowned man in the previous shown picture is the deadly sick king who can only survive in the virtue of the Holy Communion, and the knight to the left of the king is Percival riding out in search of the Grail. The war scene belov is one of the famous battle scenes from the legend's compulsory material.

Hornslet church. A dramatic battle scene in front of a town wall or a castle. In one of the castle towers an archer is shooting an arrow with great power.

Hornslet church. A part of the battle scene.

What the fine English artist supposedly painted in a little newbuilt church in Jutland in the middle of the 1100s is now one of very few medieval representations of the Holy Grail on Danish ground.

photo Skibet church + Hornslet church 2003/2007: grethe bachmann 
Trap Danmark: Vejle amt
Gyldendal og Politikens Danmarkshistorie, bind 4
Gyldendals bog om Danmarks kirker.
Gyldendals bog om Danske kalkmalerier.

The Ravning Bridge, Vejle River Valley

Viking Period
The Ravning Bridge

The Ravning Bridge is a bridge from the Viking period, built in oak in ab 979 at the same time as Trelleborg, Fyrkat, Aggersborg and Nonnebakken, all being counted to Harald Bluetooth's ruling period. Seemingly they lost their military significance and fell into decay after ab. 5 years of use. The Ravning bridge was discovered in 1953; it is situated 10 km south of Jelling in Vejle River Valley and has a natural connection to the longitude road of Middle Jutland, called Hærvejen (The Army Road) and to the old roads southwards. The bridge is 760 metres long and 5 metres broad, and the building was characterized by an impressing accuracy. The sequences of the bridge only differed up to 5 cm from a straight line.

photo 240307: grethe bachmann