Sunday, 9 December 2012

The holly and the ivy

How like a winter hath my absence been
From thee, the pleasure of the fleeting year!
What freezings have I felt, what dark days seen!
What old December’s bareness everywhere!

                                                           William Shakespeare

Frost and snow have ensured that no real gardening could take place during the past few days. Despite the season, there is still colour to be seen in Pablo’s garden in an occasional perennial that hasn’t as yet been affected by the frosts, including some of the this year’s pentstemons and salvias.

There is also one climbing rose, viewed from the French windows, that still bears one solitary red rose which continuously waves at me from the left hand border – a wonderfully uplifting sight.

Evergreens take the lead now. The holly tree has very few red berries so perhaps it won’t be such a bad winter after all. Legend has it that the cross was made of wood from the holly tree and thus the holly must suffer by bearing thorny leaves. Its berries are supposed to represent drops of Christ’s blood.

Ivy leaves from the garden with shop-bought roses
The ivy, which is often such a nuisance in having to be regularly chastised from entwining itself around the guttering, now comes into its own. Because of its clinging nature, ivy is seen as the feminine counterpart of the masculine holly. Small birds love to nest in it in the spring and in the winter it is perfect for flower arrangements.


A white flake here and there – a snow lily
Of last night’s frost – our naked flower beds hold;
And for a rose flower on the darkening mould
The hungry redbreast gleams. No bloom, no bee.
                                         From ‘Winter’ by Dante Gabriel Rossetti


  1. Lovely post Gillian with appropriate literary underpinnings from literature. Wxx

  2. I love the shop bought roses with ivy - I'm going to be copying that idea for my Christmas decorations.