The use of money fascinates me. It is not a subject that is naturally associated with being outside. With the growth of the Internet and online transactions, I can no longer argue that spending money helps people and children get out and about.
Yet, if you get out and about, you may come across a coin stump or wishing tree. There has been a strong resurgence in recent years of money trees or wishing trees appearing within the UK. These tend to be old tree stumps or felled trees with coins pushed or hammered into their bark by passers by, who hope it will bring them good fortune. Some are very old with coins buried deep in the bark. Very occasionally old beams in houses can be found with coins pushed into their splits. It is believed the tradition dates back to the 1700’s.
Some also believe that if you press a coin into a tree their illness will go away. If the coin is removed, then their illness will return. There is also a practical element to this tradition. If copper coins are used, then it is a method of killing the tree stump.
If your class or nursery wishes to create a coin tree, then seek permission from the landowner first, especially if the stump or log is off-site. However it is also worth looking for one when out and about in country parks or along the side of a footpath.
Does money grow on trees? If this arises as a topic of conversation, little children may wish to see if they can find ways of making a money tree. They might try sticking coins onto trees with clay or planting coins. Let them come up with suggestions.
In China, there are legends which have grown up around money trees. They are holy trees which can bring money and fortune to people and as a symbol of wealth. Cast bronze money trees have been found on Han tombs in Sichuan. These are also featured during the Chinese New Year. According to the Wiki, Money trees are:
“made of a bushy pine or cypress branch nestled inside a porcelain pot filled with rice grains. Melon seeds and pine nuts are sprinkled over the top of the rice. Decorating the branches are gold and silver coin garlands made of paper. Symbols of long life (including paper cranes and deer) also embellish the tree, which is usually topped by the genie of wealth, Liu Hai, or the character for happiness.”
The new money trees shown in these photos are two beech logs left lying by the path through Oxley Bank at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. It’s very close to some hanging beech tree sculptures by Andy Goldsworthy which makes me wonder if these logs were leftover from his project. For some amazing photos of money stumps, then do Google Image search using the term “Money Stump.”
Finally, you can debate whether money grows on trees, but it can be found in a biennial plant called Honesty.
Honesty or Lunaria annua is one of my favourite plants because it’s beautiful seed heads are one of winter’s wonders. As a child I adored the translucent paper thin head and the seeds tucked in between the thin flat pods. It is the seeds that are the “money”. In the right garden, a child could become very rich. I rather like the potential for the seeds to become fairy money or nature’s money.
Honesty is easy to grow and self-seeding. It’s biennial which means that one year you will see the purple flowers and the next the seed heads in this photo. It’s other name is Moonwort and this is an apt description. According to folklore, Honesty has magical powers to unshoe horses and open locks. Imagine that!
All-in-all there’s a lot of money-related matters in nature and folklore…!