Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Holly Bears A Berry...

Deciduous holly... winterberry, Norfolk Botanical Garden
(Click picture to enlarge)
Posted by Picasa
"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
O' the rising of the sun
And the running of the deer
The playing of the merry harp
Sweet singing of the choir.

The holly bears a berry
As red as any blood,
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ
To do poor sinners good.
O' the rising of the sun
And the running of the deer
The playing of the merry harp
Sweet singing of the choir."
~ Cecil Sharp, The Holly and the Ivy ( 17th Century Christmas Carol)
"It was a grey and dismal day"...as it does seem to be so often in winter and without the clean blanket of white snow to offset the damp and rain. We have entered that time of year when you can "feel the bone structure in the landscape" (Andrew Wyeth) and when the trees clack and crack together as the strong north wind blows. Everything is gray.. the sky, the tree trunks, even the grass that tends to stay a greenish tinge all winter here, seems gray. And yet when you look closely, you can find pops of color here and there.

Now is the glory of the holly. We mostly think of the evergreen holly with the scalloped spiny leaves and red berries often tucked in between the leaves and visible only upon close inspection. But my favorites (besides the soft evergreen varieties) are the deciduous hollies or native winterberries. I have seen these grow into tree forms and in the midst of winter you can see group plantings of them with branches covered by bright red berries. When framed by a gray winter sky, these pop with red fire and warm the space around them. The roses and coneflowers may rule the summer... but these holly are the queens of winter.

(end of post)


Ginny Hartzler said...

I love your adjectives!!! A lovely and poetic post today.

Patricia said...

Oh, my!!! What eloquent queens they are!!!! This photo is stunning...took my breath away. 

Patricia said...

I'm making my way through emails and comments and had to stop back by to thank you for your most recent encouraging words. Isaiah 35 will be my bedtime story tonight. And I'm not certain of the exact day this week you will be celebrating another year, but may it be a day overflowing with all things good and those you love...for days and years to come. 

sandra said...

the photo is beautiful and so is he poem. I love trees and bushes that are minus the leaves and show the bare bones.

kenju said...

Beautiful photo!! I always loved that carol.

Mama Zen said...


Jennifer said...

The photo is gorgeous. The poem reminds me of Terry Pratchett's Hogfather where he gives Christmas traditions his own unique twist.

Marvin said...

Beautiful photo.  A bit of bright color can make such a difference during the winter.

Carver said...

Wonderful shot and the perfect carol to go with it. I also enjoyed your narrative very much.

EG Wow, Canada said...

I like winterberries too. I have never seen many here in my part of Ontario but I have seen them up north, They certainly are beautiful this time of year.

Leora said...

The berries are just lovely.  And I am quite fond of Andrew Wyeth, the quote you chose, and his landscapes.

Arija said...

They certainly are very beautiful. Anything gleaming against a slate grey sky is like the jewels in the crown.

Vicki said...

Wow. I have got to plant one of those!

Michelle-Rambling Woods said...

How beautiful and cheery...everything here is just buried under snow, but that doesn't keep the rabbits and deer from the yard.....Michelle