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We found this rarity growing in Ventnor Botanic Gardens on the Isle of Wight in 1988 as part of our countrywide plant search and the genesis of Architectural Plants Ltd. A round headed, dense, slightly exotic little tree with large glossy leaves. All the plants we’ve ever produced since then have been cuttings from that tree.
Considering its provenance (the Canary Group, Madeira and the Azores), surprisingly tough although in late frost-prone gardens, the young growth can be blackened by a night of air frost. Not the end of the world – it just grows new leaves.
Good in shade or sun – but greener and lusher in a bit of shade. It bears male and female flowers and produces green berries that turn red when ripe. The berries are bigger than English Holly and the plant is not a substitute for decorations in the season to be jolly as it bears little resemblance. It would fail to fulfil its role expectations as sociologists would have said in the 1970s.
Any reasonably well drained soil.
One of the most significant features of this little tree is its ability to grow in a pot and remain looking strong and sturdy for longer than any other woody plant we’ve ever encountered. Perfect for a roof garden as it doesn’t mind a bit of a blow either. We’ve grown trees in a pot with 4″ diameter trunks. Any knowledgeable grower would insist such a plant had been field grown (grown in the ground and then containerised) but no – in this case they really don’t seem to mind being confined to a pot. Very, very unusual.
Propagated by us from cuttings from a tree at Ventnor Botanic Garden.
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 AmberFind out more
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