Many of us will have heard of the Pied Piper or of ‘singing for our supper’. Due to the rather poor start of this year’s summer, a not-so-dissimilar type of musical magician has been called upon to help a town in England: the plum charmer of Pershore.

Plums in a basket
The town of Pershore in England is well known for its plums and plum festival in August.

A solicitor by day, ‘plum charmer’ Paul Johnson has stepped forward to offer his musical talent to the local orchards. Why? By playing songs on his clarinet, Paul hopes to help waken up the plum trees and remind them that it is summer, of course. And as the coldest spring in 50 years gives way to, hopefully, a better summer, the chilly plum trees probably need all the help they can get to produce a good crop.

Although there isn’t much evidence to suggest that plum charming really works, Paul has a possible theory. “Somebody told me that if you can get the right key, and make the water molecules vibrate within the fruit, it will resonate and promote the ripening process,” he explains.

If you’re (rightly) thinking that this all sounds a little batty, then you may be surprised to know that plum charming, or wassailing as it is officially known, is an age-old tradition that goes all the way back to medieval times in the west of England. The purpose of wassailing is to wake up the fruit trees and to ward off any evil spirits who might blight the summer’s crop.

And who knows? With plum charmer Paul on their side, Pershore might be in for a bumper crop this year.

Pershore is well-known locally for its long association with plum growing and its annual plum festival which runs throughout August.

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About Emily McCullough

Originally from Northern Ireland, Emily came to the Netherlands for her boyfriend and a masters degree in Physical Geography. She enjoys photography, baking, and her cats… preferably not all at the same time.


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