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).
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.
‘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).
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.
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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.
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.
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.