<p>by Ray Allen<\/p><a href="\/media\/wpuploads\/sites\/3\/2009\/12\/holly1.jpg"><img class="alignleft size-full wp-image-819" title="holly1" src="\/media\/wpuploads\/sites\/3\/2009\/12\/holly1.jpg" alt="" width="201" height="283" \/><\/a>About this time two years ago,\u00a0I 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 AmericanMeadows.com, and yes, he\u2019d be happy to let us use his photo. Imagine\u2026.New Zealand. The magic of the internet.\u00a0\r\n\r\nLater, I took a few minutes to visit his website. \u00a0It\u2019s called "<a href="http:\/\/www.herbdatanz.com\/">HerbData New Zealand<\/a>." \u00a0Take a look; it\u2019s a fascinating and very thorough herbal info site. (As you probably know, holly has all kinds of medicinal history and uses.)\u00a0 And of course, there are almost endless species.\u00a0 The classic holly of Christmas, based on Old English usage, must have prickly glossy green leaves and bright red berries.\u00a0 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.\u00a0 Historically, most "Christmas Holly" for the US floral trade has been grown commerically in New Jersey.\u00a0 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.\u00a0\r\n\r\nBy the way, if you still need more\u00a0Christmas spirit at this point,\u00a0\u201cHeigh Ho! The Holly!\u201d is from Shakespeare\u2019s \u201cAs You Like It.\u201d The full quote is \u201cThen heigh ho! The holly! This life is most jolly.\u201d 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.\u00a0 Merry Christmas from everyone at AmericanMeadows.com!