Not far from here there’s a managed woodland. There’s a careful, english, beauty about it. The right mix of ash and crab apple, sycamore at the margins, birch and beech; intentional mistletoe. And holly.
In the body of the plantation there’s holly. Creamy, variegated holly. Gently kept in check to make a large shrub. Around her it’s autumn; the leaf fall is heavy. The day is dry and there’s the scent of open fires.
There’s enough undergrowth for the native animals to seek shelter; there are bins by the wooden play frame and the cycle path is lit. Hard working hands have shaped the path, parts are wheelchair accessible. A brook runs through it and forms a pond. Even with autumn’s leaf fall the water remains clear, a duck dabbles in the weed. By any standard of human development it’s perfect.
By the storm drain, near the sub-station there’s another holly. A gardener’s careful and unpaid hands have cleared the brambles from the earth on one side, her trunk forms an uneven shape against the rough concrete. Already she runs to maybe thirteen feet, forms a loose archway over the bridleway. She’s thick with perfect red-berry fruit. A song thrush practices his balance as he feeds.
One branch reaches back into the woodland; holds hands with an oak. Every other branch, reaches out. To the houses, the aluminium railings, to passing cyclists and dog-walkers. Onwards.
The almost-black leaves start to shine their deepest green in the late sun. There are berries fallen to the path, flesh pulped by passing feet, seeds naked; waiting for long, cold germination.