Flora & fauna of the Merrill valley: part 2
the Door-ward Hollies

The Hollies of Rivendell (11KB)

illustration by the author


These sacred holly trees serve as door-wards to principal routes into and out of the Merrill valley. A line of hollies marches upon either side of the Greenway road as it enters the valley at its western end, until the way rises to skirt the Long Water lake. Two mark each of the Northern and the Southern Stairs as their paths descend into the valley: two also stand at the northern end of the Rainbow Bridge below Imladris.

These precious trees are descended from cuttings salvaged from the wreck of Eregion by those survivors who took refuge with Elrond. The Noldor who settled Eregion (S. 'region of holly') in the Second Age named it for the dense thickets of holly and thorns which covered the eastern hills, and took it as a symbol of their lands. Two great holly bushes were planted by Celebrimbor at the west gate of Moria to mark the limits of his realm.

Once the Enemy had been driven from Eriador the survivors began returning, though for the Noldo of Eregion there was little enough to return to. The wooded, rolling hills and plains of Eregion had been razed and torn and Ost-in-Edhil - once finest and proudest of cities east of the Sea - lay in ruins.

Out of the wreckage were taken such things of worth as had survived. Most of these passed into the West with those Elves who yearned for the Blessed Lands across the Sea.

Yet some of the Noldor chose to remain and of these most returned to Imladris taking with them what they could. Prized above all else, they bore away with them four cuttings, scions of that ancient holly which once stood before the gates of Ost-in-Edhil, 'City of the Elves'. These cuttings Elrond took up and before the gathered company of Imladris he called upon the name of Yavanna, Queen of the Earth, that they might be hallowed.

Two cuttings Elrond planted below Rivendell beside the river. The remaining two were set at the head of the steep track by which the host of Imladris first came to the valley (the path now called the Southern Stair). Of these four are sprung all the hollies that grow within the Merrill valley, for the tree is not native here.

And a virtue Elrond set within all these trees, unless it was a gift of the Lady Yavanna herself. For none may pass between them and come to Imladris unless they are of good will and have leave of the master, save on urgent need.