Flower of the Month: December: Holly
What in the world has happened to this year? Time obviously sped up because, somehow, it is already December and time to highlight this month's flower of the month, the holly, which isn't even a flower. Holly's are evergreen shrubs with thick, dark, pointy foliage and small red berries, which appear in fall and last throughout much of the winter. The leaves and berries provide constant color during a time of year that is typically cold, dark and gray.
Holly is synonymous with the holiday season as Christians have adopted the plant as a symbol for Christmas itself. The sharp leaves represent the crown or thorns worn by Christ, the berries symbolize his blood while the evergreen nature of the plant harkens back to the notion of eternal life. The holly bush is so tied to the Christmas holiday that there are even carols devoted entirely to it. "Holly and the Ivy" physically describes the holly plant and the aforementioned symbolism. And who can forget that "Deck the Halls" starts off with decorating with boughs of holly?
Between its link to Christmas and the fact that it is a hardy winter plant, holly leaves and berries are used frequently in holiday and winter decor. From wreaths to table centerpieces, hollies can be used to enhance the ambiance of your home or event during the Christmas season. Holly can be added to a flower arrangement containing white roses and and red poinsettias in a gold cube vessel or combined other evergreen textures, pinecones and candles to create a seasonal garland for your table or sideboard. Sprigs of holly are also a beautiful addition to place settings for holiday dinners. Either gently tuck them into folded napkins or set them upon the plate itself to add a simple and elegant touch to your table for each guest to enjoy.
It is extremely important to note, that holly berries are toxic to humans and pets, so please use caution when decorating with hollies around curious critters - both the four and two legged varieties.
The holly bush provides protection and warmth to animals during the cold harsh winter, so it makes perfect sense that two of the holly's meanings are protection and defense. Holly also represents optimism and happiness, which I hypothesize has something to do with its inclusion in the holiday season.