The Holly and the Ivy

It’s December and nature in Lydiard Park has its own festive decorations. The European Holly tree with its bright red berries is a traditional Christmas decoration, often used in wreaths for doors and to illustrate Christmas cards. You can see holly growing wild in parks and gardens, alongside other trees and bushes with winter berries: the Rowan, Hawthorn and Spindleberry (pictured) amongst others. Whilst rowan and hawthorn berries can be used to make jelly, the exotic looking pink and orange seeds of the spindleberry are toxic to humans. In fact, spindle fruits were once baked and powdered, and used to treat head lice, or mange in cattle!

Also in the park you can find the ivy, the traditional accompaniment to holly in the Christmas carol and for decoration. English ivy is a hardy plant that keeps its green leaves in winter and can survive frosty temperatures. And don’t forget to look up high in the trees to see if you can spot the mistletoe! Mistletoe is a parasite that lives on other trees and the round balls of it are easy to spot once the deciduous trees have shed their leaves. Meanwhile the evergreen spruces and cedars will keep their leaves adding some colour to the winter outdoors.