Holly wood is a very blond wood with indistinct figure, but is striking non-the-less and is dense grained and hard wearing. Freshly cut holly hasn’t the most pleasant smell and wood which has been stored in water for some time has the aroma of stale cigarette smoke! This does fade as the wood dries.
Given its growth pattern hidden knots are a risk with holly, especially leaving dead wood where a side branch has died after heavy shading from the canopy of the growing tree.
Holly wood can be successfully stored under water for many months if the bark has been removed. Wet wood exposed to the air oxidises to a very dark colour, but if not left too long this is only a millimetre or so thick and can be easily carved away. In fact, this process could be used to creative design effect!