It is my last visit of the year to Margaret Erskine Wilson’s book Wildflowers of Britain Month by Month. We have reached December and of course in the lead up to Christmas, I had to chose her beautiful illustration of holly. Holly is synonymous with Christmas and we have several lovely specimens near us. It seems to have been a good year for berries too, with lots of the trees heavily laden. Apparently a good crop of berries used to be seen as a warning of hard weather to come, but is in fact the result of a fine summer past. Certainly that’s not how I remember August but I’ll concede on June and July.
I read a lovely article about holly as a garden tree this week. The author was bemoaning the modern ‘quick results’ approach to gardening which means slow-going trees like holly are often rejected in favour of faster-growing plants. She suggested that garden plants form important threads to previous times. She says, “A satisfying garden is a resonant one and has things going on in it that are not of the here and now. Built into it are messages from previous owners of the garden and previous uses of the land.” She talks about huge pear trees in gardens on the outskirts of London that are remnants of old orchards, old bay trees planted near to the house to ward off the devil, and holly trees at the bottom of the garden left from the natural landscape that existed before urbanisation spread. It left me rather wanting to plant a holly tree at the bottom of our garden. Even if it doesn’t keep out the current neighbour’s cats it might prickle the bottoms of future cats, and that’s a rather satisfying thought!*
*Disclaimer: Before any of you cat-lovers log-off in disgust, I don’t actually hate cats, I just don’t want them to poo in my garden. Please stay and read! 🙂