Kew's historic Holly Walk has the largest collection of hollies in Europe
with over 56 species and hybrids. Originally laid out in 1874, most of
the collection is over 130 years old. The tradition of holly decoration
lies far deeper in history with the early pagans of Europe, who brought
holly inside in the winter to provide fairies with a warm place to sleep.
The Romans sent holly branches with presents during the December festival
of Saturnalia, believing the prickly leaves drove evil spirits away.
holly woods of the kind found in e.g. Epping Forest, the Welsh Marches
and in groups of huge unpollarded trees in Cumbria are a British speciality.
Only at Tenbury Wells, however, is there a market where holly is sold.
It has been reported* that the last remaining commercial holly farmer in
Britain retired in 2000. The farm (Great Yarmouth, Norfolk) is an area
of 101 ha containing 500 trees of native and non-native varieties.
* see the recent report 'Commercial
uses of wild and traditionally managed plants in England and Scotland'
up to: plants index