by Ray Allen

About this time two years ago, I was looking for a great photo of holly to use on our homepage for Christmas. I Googled Images, and found a really beautiful one from an herb site. I emailed and asked for permission to use the photo, as I always do, and within an hour, I had my answer. A really nice guy from New Zealand wrote and said he had had a look at, and yes, he’d be happy to let us use his photo. Imagine….New Zealand. The magic of the internet.  Later, I took a few minutes to visit his website.  It’s called "HerbData New Zealand."  Take a look; it’s a fascinating and very thorough herbal info site. (As you probably know, holly has all kinds of medicinal history and uses.)  And of course, there are almost endless species.  The classic holly of Christmas, based on Old English usage, must have prickly glossy green leaves and bright red berries.  American holly, native over much of the east, fits the bill perfectly--a tough, tall shrub that's quite common, mostly in mountain areas, especially in the south.  Historically, most "Christmas Holly" for the US floral trade has been grown commerically in New Jersey.  Today, garden centers everywhere have various large and small hybrids of Amrican, Japanese and other hollies--some that look like our Christmas holly, some that don't.  By the way, if you still need more Christmas spirit at this point, “Heigh Ho! The Holly!” is from Shakespeare’s “As You Like It.” The full quote is “Then heigh ho! The holly! This life is most jolly.” Our most jolly photo may be from a New Zealand site, but my new internet friend told me the holly in the picture was gathered in the wild in our own Pacific northwest.  Merry Christmas from everyone at!
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