Sunday, November 9, 2014
Posted By: in Shrubs

“And as, when all the summer trees are seen So bright and green, The Holly leaves a sober hue display Less bright than they, But when the bare and wintry woods we see, What then so cheerful as the Holly-tree?” (Robert Southey, The Holly Tree).

Holly, Ilex Shrub

We have a new crop of stunningly lovely Holly trees or should I say shrubs! All the beauty in a more compact plant. Holly’s are lovely lush anchors to your garden, content to patiently wait in the background until BAM…the last late fall blast of wind blows the leaves off the deciduous trees and voila…a serene, sparkling, winter classic emerges. Glossy deep green leaves artistically arranged clusters of rich Christmas red berries what is not to love? Holly has oft been viewed as a larger estate tree, something for the back of the large border of property.

Female Hollies produce berries and you will need a male plant in the vicinity. The spines of many of varieties of Holly are a definite hazard!! Anyone that has had to garden under one gloves or not or has run barefoot by one can vouch for the reason. Add to that a slow but inexorable outward and upward growth like the Pillsbury Dough Boy in Ghostbusters and if you live in a small yard you have yourself a plant monster on your hands. Granted a super slow growing and festive monster, but a monster all the same. Not so with these little beauties! I thought I would have to wait until I had more property to eventually get a majestic Holly and then I laid eyes on these!! I’ve fallen in love. Move on over deciduous shrubs…Holly’s coming to town. The are a number of beliefs about Holly, in that it fends off lightning, promotes long life and good dreams and of course one of my favorites, is that if you plant a prickly leaved Holly by your house, the men of the household will have good fortune and be in charge. If you plant a smooth and variegated Holly the women of the household will have good fortune and be in charge. Having both plants signifies a balanced household.

Holly trees and shrubs adore a moist but well draining, humic soil. Most Hollies prefer full sun to part shade, while some of the variegated ones will give the best show with more sun. They can even take some sheltered container planting so if you wanted a small one in a pot for year round interest…and have a place against the house out of the wind we’ve got your Holly! Here are some of our newest nursery arrivals:

Castle Spire Holly

Ilex x meserveae ‘Hachfee’ or ‘Castle Spire’ Holly

Glossy smaller fresh glossy spinach green toothed leaves. This is a great columnar form to add to the shrub border or even for a container. This Holly grows to about 8 to 12 feet high by about 3-4 feet in width. Because Hollies are very slow growing and because I use it every winter, I will put it in a ½ oak barrel sized pot Centered by my entrance. It is hardy to about Zone 6. It is a female variety so you can plant with a male nearby to make berries.

Honey maid Holly

Ilex x ‘Honey Maid’ or ‘Honey Maid’ Holly

Is a glossy, lightly toothed, blue green holly with creamy white edging. The new growth emerges a soft burgundy. Absolutely stunning in berry! This is also a female variety and is hardy to about zone 6-7. It grows to about 8 feet high and 5 feet wide.

Red Beauty Holly

Ilex x ‘Rutzan’ or ‘Red Beauty’ Holly

Is a glossy fresh green tooth leaved female variety with blood red berries. New growth is brushed with burgundy. It has a tightly pyramidal to columnar form. A great anchor for the back of the garden or as a more formal clipped form. It is hardy to zone 6 and grows 7-10 feet tall and 4-6 feet wide.

Santas Delight Holly

Ilex aquifolium ‘Sadezan’ or ‘Santa’s Delight’ English Holly

Is a lovely variegated form with dark green toothed, glossy leaves with a wide creamy white margin which takes on a pink hue with the colder weather. With the bright red berries it is definitely and eye catcher and a very useful one in arrangements. This variety will grow 10-12 tall and 6 feet wide and is hardy to zone 6. A male English holly in the vicinity is preferred for best berry set.

Blue Girl, Blue Boy Holly, Berri Magic Holly

Ilex x meserveae ‘Blue Girl and Blue Boy’ or Berri-Magic Kids Holly

This solves the challenge of pollinator by planting both male and female plant together. Blue Girl and Blue Boy holly are glossy blue green toothed hollies with blood red berries and purple black stems. They are hardy to zone 6 and grow to about 6-8 feet tall and 3-4 feet wide.

Scallywag Holly

Ilex x ‘MonNieves’ or ‘Scallywag’ Holly is a lovely little compact male form with small, closely toothed oval leaves ranging in colour to deep glossy green to purple bronze and burgungy tones in colder weather. It is hardy to zone 6 and grows only 4 feet tall by 3 feet wide. A great way to solve the pollinating issue for many Hollies.

Pop by Art's Nursery to take a look at these new intro’s in person as well as many of our other varieties. They are a great plant, not without challenges but pretty darn useful as both a design anchor and as a cut green. If you have any questions, feel free to call us at 604.882.1201

Laurelle Olfdord-Down

Laurelle Olfdord-Down

Laurelle is a certified horticulturalist and Landscape designer. She is currently an up and coming apple guru, growing over 120 cultivars which explains her passion for edible garden design. Laurelle works part time for Art’s Nursery. You can also interact with her through Art’s monthly newsletter, our blog and our gardening channel on YouTube.


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Art's Nursery is a 10+ acre retail and wholesale garden centre located in Surrey, a suburb of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. We've been in business at this same location since 1973 and we're proud to serve you today!

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