From Mayflower Wood

What’s in a Name?

Why make furniture under the name, "Mayflower Wood?"

Blooming mayflowers – more precisely trailing arbutus – are distinctive and beautiful. Clusters of small pink-white flowers emerge from tangled strands and leathery leaves meandering on the forest floor. Their sweet scent is guaranteed to draw your attention. I smell them before I see them. They are a standard of spring and a source of joy in many places in eastern North America, and are the official flower of both Nova Scotia and Massachusetts.

Mayflowers are finicky and rely on specific conditions, including a type of fungus in the soil. They are becoming increasingly rare, in part because people love to pick them. I know many people who have tried to save them from construction sites or vendors who peddle them door to door, which was common around here in years gone by.  But mayflowers are notoriously impossible to transplant, even with a good amount of their native soil. The effort yields inevitable disappointment. I think of it as their message to us: look, touch, smell, but don’t try to change us into a garden plant. We’re part of a healthy forest, and there we should stay.

I’d love it if the woods surrounding my shop were a “mayflower wood,” but I haven’t found any yet in the few years I’ve lived here. We have lots of wildlife, including visits from eagles and bears. However, the trees all date to the last 40 years or so, pointing to a significant disturbance well before any houses were built nearby.  We can be good stewards; maybe someday….

Naming this venture after something so beautiful and increasingly rare is aspirational. I want people to enjoy what I make, just as they enjoy the mayflowers of spring. Good furniture is not only useful and durable, it gives us - like the flowering plants of spring - an aesthetic to brighten our lives.

Mayflowers will keep me focused on that mission. I’ve been known to carve them on pieces. Maybe I’ll keep that up.