Holly 1
Male Holly In Flower

This isn’t exactly the holly time of year. The christmassy archetype of tight red berries, chiming merrily against green-glossy spikes, belongs to another, brisker season. Holly is sinewy, intense and colour-coded for snow. As if it only existed in winter.Or so I thought. But last weekend, I changed my mind. We human beings are good at change. That’s the key to evolutionary success. My epiphany was that a holly bushes are either male or female – and that both genders offer flowers irresistible to bees.

As it turns out, the male holly pods are tight, tinged bundles which burst, double-antlered with pollen prongs. And female holly bears a bud, green and nectar-sweet, when unfurled on its white pedestal. And bees hum from flower to flower, weaving a scrupulous commerce, conjugating next winter’s clutch of holly berries.

Holly 2
Female Holly In Flower

And to think. I have lived all these years with holly crammed into the gap between the first Noel and the New Year litter of bare-branched Christmas trees abandoned on the pavement.

Why? I suppose I just saw holly as a Christmas fixture, from childhood onwards. The set-piece was unchanging: the tribal gathering, a ritual consumption, the short joy of gifting and, finally, the flame-frazzled holly sprig from the pudding: festive dross.

Holly -1
Bee On Female Holly, Drinking Nectar With Her Brown Proboscis.

From now on, my perception of holly will not freeze-frame as a December ceremonial, hung on the hook of recall until next Christmas. Holly is evergreen, a venue for flower and bee to exchange their gifts of creation in an unshedding interaction.

Holly. You just have to know how to celebrate it, that’s all. The bees do.

One Reply to “Holly”

  1. Absolutely fascinating. And, I know for sure whose flower, his or hers, I prefer. Just as I know who I’d rather snuggle up to and sing Auld Lang Syne with … Beyoncé ,or Jay-Z!o

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