Plants - Trees and Shrubs

Favourite hollies and their buddies

Anne-Marie Van Nest
Photography by

Plant these winter beauties that shine in the snow

Blue Hollies
Toques off to housewife and amateur gardener Kathleen Meserve, whose longing to grow an evergreen holly with bright red berries, like the too-tender British types, led her to cross-pollinate English holly with a hardy prostrate holly. This resulted in the introduction of the “blue hollies” in 1964; my favourites are ‘Blue Prince' and ‘Blue Princess' (Ilex x meserveae ‘Blue Prince' and ‘Blue Princess,' shown above). Growing three metres tall and four metres wide, these beauties prefer full sun and peaty, acidic, moist but well-drained soil, but are pretty easygoing. All hollies have male and female flowers on separate plants, so it takes two to tango to produce bright red berries on females-which persevere through fall and winter on ‘Blue Princess'. Deck the halls. Zone 4.

hollies-grapeholly.jpgOregon Grapeholly (Mahonia aquifolium)
Height: to 1 m. Spread: to 1.5 m. Location: full to part shade (full sun in moist soil). Cultivation: peaty, moist, well-drained soil; protect from winter winds. Foliage: evergreen, lustrous, spiny; bright green in summer, purplish bronze in fall and winter. Fruit: blue-black cluster. Flowers: yellow, fragrant, in spring. Zone: 6, shown at right.

‘Sarah' mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia ‘Sarah')
Height: to 2 m. Spread: to 1.5 m. Location: full sun to part shade. Cultivation: as above; tolerates moist locations. Foliage: evergreen, medium green; new growth maroon. Flowers: deep red buds; pinkish red in spring. Fruit: brown seed capsules. Zone: 5

‘Winter Red' winterberry, ‘Southern Gentleman' holly
Ilex verticillata ‘Winter Red' (f) and ‘Southern Gentleman' (m)
Height: to 2 m. Spread: to 2 m. Location: full sun to part shade. Cultivation: as above. Foliage: deciduous; dark green in summer, yellow bronze in fall. Flowers: small, white in spring. Fruit: bright red on female. Zone: 4

Dwarf turkestan euonymous (Euonymus nanus var. turkestanicus)
Height: to 1 m. Spread: to 1.5 m. Location: full sun to part shade. Cultivation: peaty, acidic, well-drained soil. Foliage: evergreen (where mild); blue-green in summer, red in fall. Flowers: brownish purple in May. Fruit: pink, with red seed capsules. Zone: 2

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