A festive favourite that symbolises everlasting life.
The holly (Ilex aquifolium) is one of the easiest trees in the cemetery to recognise, because of its familiar shiny prickly leaves and red berries. This holly is ‘variegated’, with vivid green leaves edged in bright yellow.
Hollies are traditionally associated with everlasting life, because they are evergreen (they keep their leaves all year). They can also live for up to 300 years. We bring sprigs of its bright green leaves into the house in winter, to remind ourselves of new life to follow in the spring. The spiky leaves and blood-red berries are also associated with Jesus’s crown of thorns.
Many people believe it is unlucky to cut down a holly tree. This may be because of its reputation for protecting people and homes against lightning strikes. There’s actually some science to back this up – the spikes on the leaves act as miniature lightning conductors!