CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Christmas is coming. At least that's what it looks like in the stores. With that in mind, I'm planting a few new holly varieties. I love the waxy, shiny, spiky leaves of the traditional holly, and I have several specimens that have been growing happily in our yard for more than 20 years. Although not the optimal time to cut, growth-wise, I (and my friends) trim them around the holidays every year, providing branches and twigs for many centerpieces and wreaths.
I added a Sky Pencil Holly to the corner of the house, and it fits nicely behind the deciduous red twig dogwood. I've heard mixed reviews of the Sky Pencil, so I'm anxious to see how it behaves in my yard.
In my research of different holly types, I've found a few to add to our repertoire of traditional bushes.
Ilex crenata'Dwarf Pagoda' is an attractive dwarf, with small-leaved form, and its annual growth is 2 inches. It has black berries, and I have it in a bed that has lots of other dwarf evergreens. There are a few other dwarf varieties, Ilex crenata'Lemon Gem' and Ilex'Rock Garden' that I want to add.
There's a great place online to get these little gems: www.tinytreasurenursery.com.
Another couple of interesting hollies are Ilex aquifolium'Angustimarginata Aurea' and Ilex aquifolium'Silver Queen' -- both have purplish stems.
A deciduous holly, Ilex serrata, has little red berries and short leaves. Another interesting type to consider.
A lot to choose from -- it will be fun!
More holiday information
Speaking of Christmas, those catalogs are pouring in, touting "gifts for gardeners." Among the typical amaryllis bulbs, paperwhites and small evergreens, I spotted an attractive gift plant from White Flower Farm.