Another interesting tree in the garden is the Arbutus or Strawberry tree this has clumps of white bell like flowers and large orange to red fruits that resemble the strawberry from whence it gets it’s nick-name, this too adds colour to Christmas.
A plant with definite Christmas association is the Mistletoe – Geul, ‘ across the water’, this plant has many superstitions associated with it. It was revered by the Druids and the tradition of kissing under it goes back to early times. Mistletoe like Holly, is dioecious, this means that it has separate male and female plants. I know of two Mistletoe plants in Ballaugh, growing on apple trees, they are within half a mile of each other, one bears berries and the other doesn’t. A friend of mine living in Andreas has ‘cracked’ the way of propagating Mistletoe and has a large number of plants growing on apple trees in his wonderful garden.
I have mentioned Ivy – Hibbin before in this series but it also has Christmas associations. I will state my belief again and this is that there are a number of good things related to Ivy and these out weight the bad ones. As a food plant the flowers and fruit are important for birds and insects and the plant furnishes wonderful cover for nesting and refuge. Furthermore when Ivy is in flower it is a magnet for a wide variety of insects, bees, hover flies and many more. There is a mighty place to witness this. Near to the Observatory on the Calf – Yn Cholloo there is the large clump of Ivy growing on a high wall alongside the main path, in the summer the hum of insects is deafening!
As this column is mainly about flowering plants and because we are into the last month of the year, it stands to reason that there are not going to be many flowers. That stated anyone who wanders about the countryside with their eyes open and looking at the hedgerows cannot fail to notice how many different plants are still in flower. Some of them are looking a bit bedraggled, but they are there to be seen. On Christmas day – Laa Nollick when you go for a walk to help the turkey or goose go down, look about you and see how many different ones are still in flower.
I hope some of you found the articles each month interesting and useful. A number of people have contacted me regarding having the complete years articles printed in a small folder or booklet. I will give this some thought, watch this space as they say.
Nollick ghennal as blein yindyssagh noa, John Dog.