Holly and Mistletoe

rambling ratz

Christmas is nearly upon us and many people will be decorating their houses with evergreen cuttings such as holly and mistletoe; but why I hear you ask? Okay, you didn’t ask, but you are wondering now aren’t you? photo of holly berries

The association of these plants with a mid winter festival goes back a long, long way. The Romans had their festival of Saturnalia. This was a feast held in December for the agricultural god, Saturn. They used evergreen decorations, gave gifts and generally had a good time. 

Illustration of Balder's Death Balder’s Death by Mistletoe: Courtesy Wikimedia; Karl (1895)

Yule was a Norse Solstice festival celebrated in honour of Frey, consort of the goddess Freya. He was born to a virgin mother. The Norse god Balder was slain by a spear of mistletoe, he was supposed to return after Doomsday; so we are seeing the familiar natural pattern of new life and resurrected life…

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November Berries

rambling ratz

Most of the berries around at this time of year are red. However, the ivy berries are green, turning purple. Poisonous to humans, they provide a great meal for a variety of birds including black birds and wood pigeons. Apparently they contain, gram for gram, as many calories as a Mars bar.Photo of ivy berries

Onto the red berries, most of which also provide winter nutrients for birds. The cotoneaster is putting on a colourful display with red leaves as well as red berries.

I think this might be a different sort of cotoneaster, the red berries are more obvious against the green leaves.Photo of red berries

A popular favourite around this time of year, the holly.Photo of holly berries

The birds have almost stripped the firethorn bush of its berries already.Photo of firethorn berries

For the bigger birds there are of course the rose hips.

View original post

November Berries

rambling ratz

Most of the berries around at this time of year are red. However, the ivy berries are green, turning purple. Poisonous to humans, they provide a great meal for a variety of birds including black birds and wood pigeons. Apparently they contain, gram for gram, as many calories as a Mars bar.Photo of ivy berries

Onto the red berries, most of which also provide winter nutrients for birds. The cotoneaster is putting on a colourful display with red leaves as well as red berries.

I think this might be a different sort of cotoneaster, the red berries are more obvious against the green leaves.Photo of red berries

A popular favourite around this time of year, the holly.Photo of holly berries

The birds have almost stripped the firethorn bush of its berries already.Photo of firethorn berries

For the bigger birds there are of course the rose hips.

View original post