Five things you never knew about holly
The UK's most common native evergreen has adorned gardens and homes for centuries. An important winter food for birds and animals, it's found in ancient deer parks, native woodland and historic gardens.Here we explore the rich history of one of Britain's favourite festive plants.
Holly’s symbolic associations have their origins in pagan culture. A signature plant in early, formal gardens, prized by the Victorians and valued for its tolerance to pollution in industrial areas, holly is incredibly versatile.
There are over 200 cultivated varieties of our native holly and while the Latin name, Ilex aquifolium, means ‘with pointed leaves’, not all of them are prickly. Plant hunters in the 19th century enriched our gardens with exotic hollies brought over from China and Japan.
Furniture makers have prized this whitest of woods and Christmas wouldn’t be complete without those shiny, dark green leaves and bright berries in wreaths and garlands.