GROWING GREEN: The dark side of mistletoe

WhatsOn Dec 16, 2014 Hamilton Mountain News

Mistletoe and holly have long played an important role in Christmas celebrations.

However, their history predates Christianity, going back to the time of the Druids, Celts, Norse and Romans who believed that they held special mystical properties, would ward off evil spirits and bring them good luck.

Kissing under the mistletoe became popular in medieval England. Evergreen mistletoe is symbolic of the eventual rebirth of vegetation come spring.

Although it has been used as a symbol of love and friendship since ancient times, the word mistletoe comes from the not-so-romantic word mistel, meaning dung, and tan, meaning twig or stick.

In essence, dung on a stick.

Mistletoe is a parasitic plant, poisonous to humans, that grows and feeds off of trees and shrubs often killing the host plant.

On the positive side, it plays a vital role in providing food and habitat to a wide range of birds and wild animals in forests and woodlands. Butterflies lay eggs on it and bees harvest its pollen.

Holly (Ilex spp) is similar in that it is evergreen, sports decorative berries and is poisonous to humans and domestic animals. But, unlike mistletoe, which is better purchased at a plant nursery than cultivated in our gardens, holly makes a wonderful addition to the garden.

Its glossy evergreen leaves and bright red berries shine in the winter landscape and provide food and shelter for all kinds of birds.

Holly needs both male and female plants to produce berries, so keep that in mind when shopping for holly shrubs. It likes to grow in a sheltered spot, in full sun and well drained loamy soil.

Mulch is a good idea and a dose of fertilizer in spring and fall should keep your holly happy and have you harvesting its boughs and berries to decorate your halls and tables come Christmas.

Growing Green is a regular feature prepared by the Mount Hamilton Horticultural Society (gardenontario.org/site.php/mhhs). Helen MacPherson, vice-president of the society, wrote this report.

GROWING GREEN: The dark side of mistletoe

WhatsOn Dec 16, 2014 Hamilton Mountain News

Mistletoe and holly have long played an important role in Christmas celebrations.

However, their history predates Christianity, going back to the time of the Druids, Celts, Norse and Romans who believed that they held special mystical properties, would ward off evil spirits and bring them good luck.

Kissing under the mistletoe became popular in medieval England. Evergreen mistletoe is symbolic of the eventual rebirth of vegetation come spring.

Although it has been used as a symbol of love and friendship since ancient times, the word mistletoe comes from the not-so-romantic word mistel, meaning dung, and tan, meaning twig or stick.

In essence, dung on a stick.

Mistletoe is a parasitic plant, poisonous to humans, that grows and feeds off of trees and shrubs often killing the host plant.

On the positive side, it plays a vital role in providing food and habitat to a wide range of birds and wild animals in forests and woodlands. Butterflies lay eggs on it and bees harvest its pollen.

Holly (Ilex spp) is similar in that it is evergreen, sports decorative berries and is poisonous to humans and domestic animals. But, unlike mistletoe, which is better purchased at a plant nursery than cultivated in our gardens, holly makes a wonderful addition to the garden.

Its glossy evergreen leaves and bright red berries shine in the winter landscape and provide food and shelter for all kinds of birds.

Holly needs both male and female plants to produce berries, so keep that in mind when shopping for holly shrubs. It likes to grow in a sheltered spot, in full sun and well drained loamy soil.

Mulch is a good idea and a dose of fertilizer in spring and fall should keep your holly happy and have you harvesting its boughs and berries to decorate your halls and tables come Christmas.

Growing Green is a regular feature prepared by the Mount Hamilton Horticultural Society (gardenontario.org/site.php/mhhs). Helen MacPherson, vice-president of the society, wrote this report.

GROWING GREEN: The dark side of mistletoe

WhatsOn Dec 16, 2014 Hamilton Mountain News

Mistletoe and holly have long played an important role in Christmas celebrations.

However, their history predates Christianity, going back to the time of the Druids, Celts, Norse and Romans who believed that they held special mystical properties, would ward off evil spirits and bring them good luck.

Kissing under the mistletoe became popular in medieval England. Evergreen mistletoe is symbolic of the eventual rebirth of vegetation come spring.

Although it has been used as a symbol of love and friendship since ancient times, the word mistletoe comes from the not-so-romantic word mistel, meaning dung, and tan, meaning twig or stick.

In essence, dung on a stick.

Mistletoe is a parasitic plant, poisonous to humans, that grows and feeds off of trees and shrubs often killing the host plant.

On the positive side, it plays a vital role in providing food and habitat to a wide range of birds and wild animals in forests and woodlands. Butterflies lay eggs on it and bees harvest its pollen.

Holly (Ilex spp) is similar in that it is evergreen, sports decorative berries and is poisonous to humans and domestic animals. But, unlike mistletoe, which is better purchased at a plant nursery than cultivated in our gardens, holly makes a wonderful addition to the garden.

Its glossy evergreen leaves and bright red berries shine in the winter landscape and provide food and shelter for all kinds of birds.

Holly needs both male and female plants to produce berries, so keep that in mind when shopping for holly shrubs. It likes to grow in a sheltered spot, in full sun and well drained loamy soil.

Mulch is a good idea and a dose of fertilizer in spring and fall should keep your holly happy and have you harvesting its boughs and berries to decorate your halls and tables come Christmas.

Growing Green is a regular feature prepared by the Mount Hamilton Horticultural Society (gardenontario.org/site.php/mhhs). Helen MacPherson, vice-president of the society, wrote this report.