Ilex aquifolium (Holly)
Our native Holly. The Holly and the Ivy tells us that ‘of all the trees that are in the wood, the Holly bears the crown’. Hmmm… not so sure about that. Left to its own devices, it’s a bit of a shapeless, gaunt thing but where it DOES bear the crown is as topiary. Being a native it’s been shaped into hedges and geometric shapes for for untold centuries. One of the hardiest evergreens in existence, slow growing, beautifully dense (after a few years of constant clipping) and untroubled by much in the way of pests and diseases.
Familiar dark green (definitely British Racing Green) shiny and prickly leaves and little white flowers. Sun or shade.
There are many different forms of Ilex aquifolium. We stick to the one that’s familiar. Usually as a half standard (3ft trunk with a rounded clipped top).
Propagated by cuttings.
N.B. When clipping several plants with the same tool, have a bucket containing a 5% bleach solution and swish your blades around for 30 seconds between plants to sterilise them. This will help avoid the chance of cross contamination of disease.
As with all woody plants, plant high, exposing as much of the taper at the base of the trunk as possible. Allowing soil to accumulate round the base of a tree can be fatal. Keep very well watered when first planted.
Hardiness level Green