EDITOR'S LETTER: The Garden in the Carols

By Karen England.

For a very long time now, decades really, I have been working on an idea for a gardening book called “The Garden in the Carols", all about the herbs, flowers, fruits and plants that are in the lyrics of the Christmas Carols that I so dearly love. I hope that those of you of other faiths and differing beliefs from mine will grant me, a lifelong, dyed-in-the-wool Christmas-aholic, a bit of seasonal leeway as you read on, and can at least enjoy the plants, even if the songs are not your cup of winter tea.

If my idea was a playlist, this would be it! Consider it my December gift to all of you.

1. The plant is HAY. (Want to read more about the plant? https://homeguides.sfgate.com/types-grass-used-hay-69930.html)

The carol is - (want to hear the carol sung? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iIBiLtzpQX0)

Away in the Manger “. . . asleep on the hay.”

(Hay appears also in God Rest You, Merry Gentleman and In The Bleak Midwinter.)


2. The plant is PINE. (Want to read more about the plant? https://www.thespruce.com/pine-trees-from-around-the-world-3269718)

The carol is - (want to hear the carol sung? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y6Xt5SjHbBA)

Good King Wenceslas . . .“bring me PINE logs hither; . . .”

(honorable mention, O Christmas Tree!)


3. The plants are MYRRH & FRANKINCENSE. (Want to read more about the plants? https://www.popsci.com/what-are-frankincense-and-myrrh/)

The carol is - (want to hear the carol sung? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1mItWsC8RtM)

The First Nowell “ . . . their gold and myrrh and frankincense."

(Myrrh and frankincense appears also in the carols The Three Kings and We three Kings.)


4. The plants are BAY and ROSEMARY. (Want to read more about the plants? https://www.nytimes.com/1975/09/21/archives/sweet-bay-rosemary-and-other-kitchen-herbs.html)

The carol is - (want to hear the carol sung? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZxneviXDTAA)

(Apologies in advance to vegans!) Boar’s Head Carol “. . . bedeck’d w/BAYS & ROSEMARY; . . .”

(Bay and rosemary appear also in Here We Come a Wassailing.)


5. The plant is MAPLE. (Want to read more about the plant? https://animals.sandiegozoo.org/plants/maple)

The carol is - (want to hear the carol sung? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sbAlWFTvTTM)

Wassail, Wassail “. . . our bowl made of the white MAPLE tree; . . .”


6a. The plant is HOLLY. (Want to read more about the plant? http://www.sdnews.com/view/full_story/27002937/article-Holly-holds-up-year-round--but-it-shines-at-Christmas-)

The carol is - (want to hear the carol sung? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XIHYEb-EIfY)

Sans Day Carol “. . . now the HOLLY bears a berry . . .”

(Holly appears also in Deck the Halls and The Holly & the Ivy. 6b. The plant is IVY. Want to know more about growing ivy as a houseplant?



7. The plant is ROSE. (Want to read more about the plant?https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/lifestyle/home-and-garden/sd-hm-rose-care-calendar-20180301-story.html)

The carol is - (want to hear the carol sung? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QPOElaGkNPI)

Lo, How a ROSE “. . . e’er blooming . . .”


8. The plant is APPLE. (Want to read more about the plant? https://www.sandiegohomegarden.com/2013/01/04/grow-crisp-crunchy-apples/

The carol is - (want to hear the carol sung? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iPJBFYuUWvY

Christ the Apple Tree


9. (Probably should be no.12 😂) The plant is PEAR. (Want to read more about the plant? https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-1987-02-01-tm-125-story.html)

The carol is - (want to hear the carol sung? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xac1w1OdELI

The Twelve Days of Christmas “. . . and a partridge in a pear tree.”

Season's greetings!

Photo credit: Mrs. Claus
Sunshine Santa (Ron Martin, owner, Sunshine Gardens) and his "Mrs." (really his cousin, SDHS president, Karen England).

This December, in spite of the coronavirus, Karen England, a self-professed Christmas Carol aficionado, will once again be playing "Mrs. Claus" and taking pictures of kids and families (safely, of course!) on select weekends with Santa (her cousin, Ron Martin) at Ron Martin's nursery, Sunshine Gardens, in Encinitas, CA. Wear a mask and come see her!