Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Home for the Holly Days; the Holly and the Ivy, When They Are Both Full Grown, of All the Trees That Are in the Wood, the Holly Bears the Crown (but the Ivy's Pretty Cool Too)

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Home for the Holly Days; the Holly and the Ivy, When They Are Both Full Grown, of All the Trees That Are in the Wood, the Holly Bears the Crown (but the Ivy's Pretty Cool Too)

Article excerpt

Byline: With Carol Klein of TV's Gardeners' World

YOU'VE probably come across plenty of holly, ivy, mistletoe and Christmas roses during the last few weeks, if not tangibly then at least on the front of cards and all the paraphernalia that accompanies the festive season.

It's a given that these are the plants of the season but what a lovely idea it is to be able to grow them in our own gardens and to have the closest of links with them by cultivating them ourselves.

With the exception of the Christmas rose, helleborus niger, in Northern climes, mankind's association with these plants goes far back beyond the introduction of Christianity and many of the customs, emblems and tokens associated with Christmas have been part of our culture for millennia.

In pagan times our ancestors would have been much more aware of the natural world - they had to be. Weather and the changing of the seasons were vital. It was a question of survival.

"Of all the trees that are in the wood, the holly bears the crown." Holly is a magic tree, long revered as the protector and the bringer of hope.

All evergreens were once valued as providing a living link between one year and the next, proof that the drear, bleak cold of winter would not last for ever, that despite bare branches and bleak ground all around, nature's life-blood still ran through the holly's veins.

Though holly boughs were brought indoors to decorate homes long before Christmas was celebrated on our islands, to cut down a holly tree to the ground was to invite bad luck. The holly tree was often used as a signpost, a reference point, even now, when hedges have been flailed to pieces, the holly trees that stand along their length are left.

Hollies not only helped and protected human beings, but offered (and still do), protection to sapling trees, which in many cases outgrow their former protector. In the countryside, you'll often see a holly tree growing branch in branch with an oak, a beech or a hawthorn.

You can plant yours where you want. If you want berries on your tree it will need to be female and it'll need a male partner. Confusingly 'Kings' tend to be female and 'Queens' male. …

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