The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space


holly in jug“Holly is at a premium this year. Especially holly with berries.”
Alistair was laying branches of holly on the lawn of the house where I was working last week. All the holly that was removed was to be given to me. David, the owner of the house, had left detailed instructions for Alistair. Our eyes drifted to the small pile of holly on the lawn
“A small bunch like this,” he rounded his arms loosely to underline his point,
“would fetch £80 wholesale if it had berries on.”

I was astonished. I checked for berries. My holly had none. It was simply too late in the season

A few days earlier David had told me of his plans to remove all the holly bushes from the garden. I was on instant alert and unthinkingly blurted out that it’s unlucky to cut down holly.
He spun round, his face concerned.
“My mum always says that a farmer would never cut it down.”
We stood surveying the holly trees. One established tree and two young ones, barely a metre tall.

It was one of those tricky moments. No one wants to live their life according to superstition. But we are doing up his house to get the best possible sale price and why rock the boat. Embarrassed about my remark, I wanted to slink away. After a long pause David turned to me.
“We will keep the big holly tree. From now on it will be known as Fiona’s Holly. We will dig up the small bushes and they are for you.”

Tactful, circumspect and generous.

So armfuls of holly adorn the cottage this Christmas. The red berries are from a couple of unknown shrubs that were also removed from his garden.

Traditional for centuries at this time of year, our jug of holly is simply stunning and has given us enormous pleasure.

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  1. Janice

    Does anyone know of any way to reverse apparent bad luck resulting from the felling of a holly tree? A close family member did just that (with the best of intentions, as the tree was far too big for the small garden and was threatening to undermine the house), but since the felling they have had illness, accidents, household appliances bursting into flames, and now their car… If there is anyone out there who can advise how to appease whatever is going in this would be appreciated.

    I wonder if planting a young holly tree might reverse the situation, and by keeping the holly contained it wouldn’t threaten the house either. Help!!!

  2. Update!
    Spent all day trying to move the Holly, only to find the roots had entangled the drains! So after alot of thinking we had to take the decision to cut it down, however it had 2 really healthy small offshuts which we have planted in the back garden, so fingers crossed they take! Thanks for all the advice, here ends the tale!

  3. Thanks for the reply! I feel so much better now, not only do i not want bad luck, i also hate destroying trees, but this one is seriously not doing the house any good! Good luck with moving your Holly tree!

  4. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Jan

    Taking a cutting and making a new holly tree sounds good to me!

    I didn’t move my holly tree last year but I’m going to move it this spring!

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