Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Holly and tree-carvings

Last weekend I was out collecting more evergreens to bring into the house. The birds are eating their way through all the berries around here so I decided to pick my holly early.  It is now in a bucket of water in the shed where it should stay fresh until its time to bring it into the house.

There are lots of superstitions and folklore surrounding holly, most of which seem to be concerned with bringing bad luck.  It is supposed to be bad luck to cut down a holly tree and most especially bad luck if that tree self-seeded in that position.  I have a holly tree which must have grown from a seed dropped by a bird and I have let it grow although I have to prune it hard to keep it manageable, I don't want to tempt fate by cutting down a holly tree in my garden.

In the hedges near here there are often quite large holly trees which are left standing and the hedges are cut around them, possibly because they were once left to grow when a superstitious person was given the task of hedge cutting - at least the birds benefit from the extra berries on a full grown tree.

Thinking about cutting into trees, I wonder whether there is good or bad luck associated with carving initials on trees. Beech trees have always been popular for this because of the smooth bark. Most of the initials become so distorted as the tree grows that they become unrecognisable but these two carvings I noticed at the weekend were done on a large scale and have stood the test of time.

Here is a heart with a barely visible arrow through it.

I think the person who carved it wanted to make a big statement as the adjacent tree has LOVE in large letters carved along a branch. 

I wonder who carved these and how long ago? Perhaps they return to the woods sometimes to see if the carvings are still there, or maybe they have been forgotten?

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