Sunday, March 20, 2011

Spring Scents

EVERY spring our whole back garden is imbued with an incredible scent. It took me a while to figure out it comes from a huge holly bush right at the back of the garden. Holly is typically thought of during the winter months, particularly around Christmas, but the splendour of its blooms and their fragrance also make quite a spring statement. Holly is a dioecious plant, meaning each plant is either male or female. Only the females bear berries, and only when a male plant is located within about 30'.

This tree of ours is male, its flowers having the honour of pollinating several female holly bushes elsewhere in the garden so that they may develop the familiar red berries. The clusters of tiny white flowers grow along the branches, their scent attracting bees and winged creatures of every kind, who are all too eager to buzz to the next holly and deposit a dusting of pollen.

Some more holly facts:
-There are more than 400 species of holly
-If not pruned, some species can grow as tall as 60'
-Berries range from red to black and yellow in different species
-Berries are mildly poisonous to humans, but have been used medicinally for many years
-The tea Yerba Mate is made from a type of holly

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