March 8 2014 Latest news:
Tuesday, December 17, 2013
Farmer Peter Boardman is delighted to be able to wish everyone a berry Christmas.
For an extraordinary glut of holly berries this season means there will be plenty of cheery red colour in the decorations hanging in people’s homes.
Mr Boardman, 81, who has five acres of holly trees on his How Hill Farm, near Ludham, does not really have a clue why there is such an abundance but guesses it is down to natural variation caused by the weather.
However, it is certainly good news after last Christmas when there were virtually no berries at all.
He said: “My father planted the first holly in 1938 or 1939 and I started looking after it around 1968.”
Mr Boardman supplies local shops and garden centres and believes he is the only commercial holly grower in the country.
He confessed that most of the work in looking after the farm’s 100 varieties of holly was now down to his nephew, Nicky Coller.
He said: “It was not just holly berries missing last year; there were no acorns either. No one really knows why.”
But he said the lack of berries had not deterred Christmas buyers last year and when making festive wreaths it was best not to have too many.
Mr Boardman, who at one time used to sell holly all over the country, including London, said: “The best fruiting varieties are full of berries this year and the pigeons have not started eating them yet.
“They usually start eating them in November and I can only think it is because there are a lot of acorns about and they prefer those.”
Mr Boardman said cultivating holly was not really a commercial activity because it took so long to establish the crop.
However, he said there were some very big holly farms in the USA’s north-west with some cultivating 300 acres or more.