Every year Christmas seems to catch us on the hop. As if we hadn't already been warned there 's much scurrying around and scrummaging about for the usual festive paraphernalia. The garden is neglected and expected to look after itself. We only venture out to grab a twig or two of greenery from a neighbourly overhang. For the rest of the year the evergreens are pretty well shunned or ignored. In Roman times holly came into its own during the end of year Festival of Saturnalia, a time of licensed disorder and misrule. Some would probably argue that times haven't changed. Holly, being what it was, became a symbol of eternity for the early Christians.
Ivy, on the other hand, was associated with Bacchus, the Roman God of Wine. Dressed in a panther's skin he would set off to war in a chariot drawn by panthers. It is told that after his conquest of India, Bacchus entered Thebes in a chariot drawn by elephants. Pink ones probably.
Nevertheless, ivy was garlanded about his person. Because of all this, ivy was reputedly a preventative for drunkenness. How this actually worked remains a mystery but it's possibly lurking somewhere in a mediaeval herbal. Nor is it recorded whether Edward III availed himself of it when he spent a merry Christmas entertained in the Great Hall of the Bishop's Palace in 1331. There's plenty of ivy in the precincts though there is a doubt as to whether we are talking about the same plant.
With so much going on there is no meeting of the Gardening Club in December but we shall reconvene in the new year with an informal evening when members may renew membership and new members can join. Everyone will be welcome, and January's admission will be free. This will take place in the Town Hall on Thursday 11 January 2024. More details will follow.
In the meantime, I would like to express my thanks to the small and cheerful Committee for all the assistance in the past year. And to everyone who has a garden or not, all good wishes for Christmas and a productive new year. Pip.