In 1878, Mr. Edward Luckhurt, a member of England's Royal Horticultural Society, wrote an essay on Christmas Preparations for the Journal of Horticulture and Cottage Gardener. Nowadays, it's not uncommon to find descriptions of Victorian Christmas decorating. But it's another thing altogether to read suggestions on how to decorate for Christmas, written during the Victorian Era.
"Christmas is coming, and special preparations must be made in the garden, the house, the market. A busy time it is, therefore, especially for the gardener; for does not he wish to make the surroundings of the house as trim and ornamental as possible, so as to be in keeping with its interior decorations? To this end, miniature shrubs, many of them gay with berries, are planted in the flower beds; shrubbery borders are forked over, the shrubs pruned, and the trimmings turned to account for household decoration.
"This is frequently an elaborate affair involving much time and painstaking, the greatest difficulty often being to hit upon some new design, something different to the efforts of former years. Good taste will, of course, lead to satisfactory results. Without it there should be no ambitious flights, no aiming at novel effect, but rather a quiet tone should prevail with plenty of warmth about it. Spiral wreaths to pillars, festoons along walls between pictures, Ivy along cornices and architraves, neat wreaths of Box, berried and variegated Holly, Laurustinus, and Cotoneaster around pictures, mirrors, and doorways."
The 1881 Census for Buxted, Sussex, England identifies Edward Luckhurst as the male head of the household, married, age 42, born Kent; "occupation Land Steward and Gardener." So regarding plants, he knew his stuff. Of course, it's not very surprising that "Boxwood, berried and variegated Holly" are on his list. In large victorian cities, holly was frequently sold door-to-door during the holiday season. And those plants are still being used.