A holly jolly late autumn

Hollies along the driveway intrude over the asphalt edge, and while my wife has chopped out sections so branches don’t brush our cars, these capture the eye in autumn with clusters of red berries. Other hollies, scattered through the garden, are less evident until trees are naked in late autumn, and a few are buried behind larger evergreen Japanese cedars (Cryptomeria japonica), Southern magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora), and a wide spreading katsura (Cercidiphyllum japonicum).

Koehne holly

The evergreen Koehne holly (Ilex x koehneana, above) is most prominent of all, extending several feet over the driveway, and its clusters of red berries stand out against large, dark leaves. Just down the sloping driveway, the lone grouping of deciduous hollies (Ilex verticillata ‘Sparkleberry’, below) dropped its leaves weeks ago. The clusters of red berries are past their prime, and while berries of evergreen hollies persist through the winter, berries of the ‘Sparkleberry’ that are not harvested by birds will drop by early in the new year.

Sparkleberry holly

‘Nellie R. Stevens’ (below) is by far the most common of the large growing hollies, most with broadly pyramidal shapes, and sure enough there’s one old timer in the garden. By accident of thirty years growth of its surroundings, ‘Nellie’ cannot be seen without pushing through large deciduous azaleas and fringetrees (Chinonanthus virginicus).

Nellie R. Stevens holly

Several other hollies are buried (‘Little Red’ and ‘Festive’), and can hardly been seen. Below are photos of several of the small collection of hollies in the garden.

This variegated English holly (Ilex aquifolium ‘Argentea Marginata’) does not berry. Either it’s a male, or there is no pollinator. In any case, its variegated foliage is striking, and it grows very slowly in our Virginia heat and humidity.
Robin holly is similar in leaf and in form to Nellie Stevens. It is found commercially, but in substantially smaller numbers than Nellie.
Oakleaf and the similar Oakland hollies are more upright in growth, and at best offer scattered berries and often none.
This American holly (Ilex opaca) is a native seedling that has slowly grown to twenty feet tall in the shade of gold tipped cryptomerias (Cryptomeria japonica ‘Sekkan-sugi). With the garden bordered by forest, several smaller seedlings have been encouraged. Leaf shapes vary between seedlings, and so far no other seedlings have berries (below).
Patriot holly was introduced in line of hollies with red new growth. It has all but disappeared from commerce.
Christmas Jewel holly grows more slowly, and is not as tall as other hollies. It displays large numbers of berries, but unfortunately, it is now too shaded in this garden.
Dixie Star is another holly introduced as an alternative to the once popular Foster’s holly, but it didn’t catch on.
Mary Nell holly is occasionally seen. It is a fine holly with multiple spines that are relatively soft, but this gives Mary Nell an interesting texture.
Dragon Lady is a very cold hardy holly with an upright form. In this garden it has only occasional berries.
Centennial Girl is another cold hardy holly, with dependably abundant berries each year.
A seedling holly from unknown parents has been transplanted to a permanent home where it has room to grow, It’s spines are stiff, but the holly has an interesting texture.

3 Comments Add yours

  1. tonytomeo says:

    Hollies never became popular for us; perhaps because there is so much other color through autumn and winter. English holly is somewhat naturalizes, and is still my favorite. It does not produce many berries though. The only cultivars of English holly are female, so berries are even more sparse among plants in landscapes, especially in landscapes far from wild plants.

    1. Dave says:

      Hollies in various forms are a staple of area landscapes. Round leaf Japanese hollies are often used across house fronts, and large hollies are planted on corners. Occasionally, Nellie Stevens and other large hollies are used for privacy screening, though they are much slower growing for this purpose than fast growing arborvitae.

      1. tonytomeo says:

        I sometimes notice them in pictures. That is part of their appeal to those of us who appreciate traditional architecture. Early American architecture (reproductions) is rare here, and such buildings are mostly outfitted with Californian style landscapes. When I planted foundation plants for my Pa’s home of Early American architecture, I used Indian hawthorn rather than hollies. It worked out well, but I sort of craved the real thing.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s