Decking the Halls

Happy Solstice!

At 11:48 PM here in the Garden State, the solstice will take place which marks the longest night and the shortest day of the year. Taking some time to put on a thick pair of gloves and nip some boughs of Holly is a colorful way to brighten the home on this occasion. 

And what purpose did it serve to Deck the Halls with Boughs of Holly? According to ‘Ancient Wisdom Tree Lore’, Holly is associated with the death and rebirth of winter in both Pagan and Christian lore.

Deck the hall with boughs of holly, Fa la la la la la la la la.

'Tis the season to be jolly, Fa la la la la la la la la.

Fill the mead cup, drain the barrel, Fa la la la la la la la la.

Troul the ancient Christmas carol, Fa la la la la la la la la.

See the flowing bowl before us, Fa la la la la la la la la.

Strike the harp and join the chorus. Fa la la la la la la la la.

Follow me in merry measure, Fa la la la la la la la la.

While I sing of beauty's treasure, Fa la la la la la la la la.

Fast away the old year passes, Fa la la la la la la la la.

Hail the new, ye lads and lasses! Fa la la la la la la la la.

Laughing, quaffing all together, Fa la la la la la la la la.

Heedless of the wind and weather….

In Arthurian legend, Gawain (representing the Oak King of summer) fought the Green Knight, who was armed with a holly club to represent winter. A bag of leaves and berries carried by a man is said to increase his ability to attract women….sounds suspiciously familiar to Mistletoe!  So what better way to celebrate the passing of the darkest day than to deck your home with a little Holly and celebrate the return of the Sun! 

Yuletide Trimming

evergreen pruning

As we all prepare for the holiday season, why not take to your own back yard to generate some of your own holiday greens? For centuries, the evergreen has remained a powerful symbol of life, especially in the shorter, less productive days of winter. While pruning is essential to the health of the plant, unfortunately, the tradition of pruning in this country actually does more harm than good!

Indiscriminant trimming of evergreen shrubs at the wrong time of the year by way of an electric shear or lopper is a guarantee of more maintenance in the long run.

Pruning by electric shear was adopted by a fast-paced American culture that wanted the manicured look of European and Asian inspired gardens without the time and effort it takes to achieve such results. The genus Taxus, or Yew, is one of the most popular victims (and most resilient) to fall prey to this management practice. What appears to work for one type of plant does not work for all plants. When shrubs and trees are pruned without respecting the plant's growing habit, it often leads to a weaker plant that is prone to insects and disease.

Pruning evergreens just after Thanksgiving—just in time for holiday trimming—is an opportune time to take care of your evergreen plants such as Buxus, Ilex, Juniperus and Taxus. Investing time in your own back yard will not only save you money spent on decorating, but also save your plants in the long run.