The Ivy and the Holly

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The Ivy and the Holly

Perhaps it is because they keep their leaves all through the Winter, or because they flower and fruit at this time of year, but in ancient times both ivy and holly were believed to have magical powers, and were used to protect livestock from witches and evil spirits. Ivy (Hedera helix) and holly (Ilex aquifolium) are native to these shores, and were originally woodland plants (both being tolerant of the shade of the oak canopy). As with all native plant species, they are excellent for wildlife. Bees love the small, white, nectar-rich flowers of the holly, and robins, finches and thrushes depend on the lush, red berries during the Winter months. The yellow-green flowers of ivy supply late nectar for bees, hoverflies and butterflies; finches and thrushes feast on the small, black berries from Winter through to Spring, and the evergreen foliage provides safe nesting sites for wrens and blackbirds.