Holly - A Nasty Cut

  • 29 December 2004
  • test

Anywhere but your garden, where its fallen leaves lay in wait for the unsuspecting bare foot in summer, lacerating the soles.

What is more, your hands are no safer if you garden without gloves – which let's face it, most of us do. And another thing – the holly tree does not create shade, it creates a blackout. Its leaves are dark and its cover is impenetrable - nothing will grow underneath it. It's just a thoroughly bad lot. Until winter, however, when all is forgiven.

The holly redeems itself and justifies its existence with fantastic red berries, enough to gladden the heart and provoke any number of seasonal songs. As anyone who has read The Book of Kells from cover to cover will know, an 8th century monk refers to the holly leaves providing him with the gold ink he uses. A friend of scientific bent proceeded as follows:

She took about 30 holly leaves, steeped them in water and left them on her range for about a week, adding more leaves throughout the week. She strained them and used the resulting gunk. Lo and behold, gold ink for her Christmas cards!