English Holly Removal: Saints Go Marching In

All for to halt the footsteps of the underground conqueror


Chakchung Kuo

Grade 8 student Ethan Yan holding a holly twig (Harry Yuan)

When the chilly wind is announcing the arrival of winter and the impending Christmas, there is an urgent shout from the woods along the coast being disregarded. Last Saturday, Ms. Melissa Cochran led ten students from Harker Hall to volunteer at Pacific Spirit Park at the UBC end to remove English holly, an invasive plant currently flourishing along the West Coast.

English holly, the generally recognised Christmas decoration, is now outstretching its roots to compete for space, water and nutrients with other fellow plants. Its seeds are spread by birds, contributing to its seemingly unstoppable growth from California to lower British Columbia. Upon arrival, students received instructions from experienced workers on pruning holly. The process was proven to be easier said than done, given that some holly shrubs had stout stems and spiky leaves. Despite the difficulties, students still took their way through all the bushes and briars, and managed to pack a few large bags of holly, which marked a triumphant ending of the battle. “It’s our duty to help get rid of the invasive species. I was expecting some boys to say ‘I’m tired’ or ‘I want to take a break’, but they didn’t complain and everything went smoothly. I’m proud of them,” said Harry Yuan, Grade 11 student leader of the event.