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Post new topic   Reply to topic    Irish Gardeners Forum Home -> Shrubs in Ireland ... Hedging in Ireland

Holly- a true winter warmer


 
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Adamn Greathead
Rank attained: Hazel Tree
Rank attained: Hazel Tree


Joined: 12 Sep 2006
Posts: 44
Location: West Midlands

PostPosted: Fri Nov 17, 2006 9:36 pm    Post subject: Holly- a true winter warmer Reply with quote

Quote:
The bark of holly is a sexy thing




There are about 400 various species of holly which belong to the family aquifoliaceae. They exist in temperate, tropical and sub-tropical woodland throughout the world, many co-existing with the flora of Asia, North Africa and America. Our native holly or European holly (Ilex aquifolium) is famous for its evergreen torturous foliage but there are certain species which are deciduous and shed their leaves at different times of the year. The majority possess widely-spaced leaves that glow a glamorous green in the light and are rather leathery in texture. Holly really is a sensuous treat for the gardener.
On the whole Holly is dioecious meaning they have male and female flowers on different plants. This, therefore, echoes the need for both a female and male bush if their rosy red berries are desired. Some hollies can be found that produce yellow berries or variegated leaves and some have leaves that are totally exempt of spines and, in the areas bordering Shropshire, would be called 'slike' holly. Surprisingly, dealers would pay less for spiny holly and pay more for its deformed and somewhat boring opposition. It is encouraging to read that dealers actually paid for their holly as opposed to picking it from the wild which, sadly, does happen very often and will inevitably have a drastic effect on such an indigenous gem.
Ilex aqaufolium is as tough as old boots and, in Dungeness, there lives a group of stunted specimens growing in the abrupt conditions which the shingle beaches make. So it is not surprising that the same plant will tolerate dense shade and northern aspect but, at the other end of the scale, will happily survive in full sun in a southern aspect. Even the soil type seems to pass the holly by, whether it be wet or dry, holly will grow in it. An exemplary example of this is noticeable alongside British roads where holly dominates the flora embedding itself amongst hawthorn, hazel and honesty. Here the plant seems to thrive and regularly protrudes above its neighbours thrusting its gnarled branches into the road. Birds are the main predator of the holly's berries and it is thanks to them that holly has been distributed all over the landscape. After the berries turn somewhere around November they are immediately devoured by hunger-stricken birds who absolutely love them, the seeds are then released and move through the birds digestive system which softens them ready for germination before being discarded. The seeds take an average of two years to germinate, grow slowly for the first few years before romping away once they have reached the ripe age of five years.
The bark of holly is a sexy thing. It takes on an ashen hue which can be tinged with crimson. The bark is thin and is rarely seen without its mottled covering of algae which accommodates small lichens making the tree look like it is smothered with oriental scripture. The wood of the holly is equally as beautiful. It is a very hard wood, compact and close-grained. It is the most pure of ivories that, when buffed, achieves a remarkable shine. As these qualities prove difficult to find in the majority of woods, holly is a favourite with furniture makers and is often used in the assembly of coffee tables. However, it does come with its defects one of which is it retains its sap stubbornly so needs to be thoroughly dried out before it can be used otherwise it can warp.
I have a profitable yet very painful relationship with holly as in that I make wreaths at Christmas and sell them on my plant stalls at certain Christmas celebrations. The tedious chore of wrapping thin wires around the lethal holly and threading it through a ring of damp moss does not do the fingers much good and this can be seen by the minute holes embedded in the palms. Apart fro this, I do grow holly for its contribution to the aesthetics of the garden. I am currently in the possession of two standard holly bushes which, in eight years, have not reached anywhere near the height that I desire thus amplifying how slow holly bushes grow. However, the luscious evergreen foliage mingles with the crimson berries of pyracantha better than ever this year, with the backdrop of miscanthus sinensis 'zebrinus', the overall simplicity of the holly is exuberated.
Holly does prefer a well drained soil and good exposure to sun so it has to put up with a lot of hassle here because for a start this garden is grown on heavy clay but it does get its full amount of sun. When I bought my bushes I had no idea whether they were male or female, all I know is I get berries from them so one has got to be a male and the other must be the bearing female.
Come January and I will be sick and tired of holly, loathing its pernicious prickles and its barbaric barbs but I will have been working with one of Britain's incredible characters that every Englishman should and will be familiar with. If you can afford just one plant this month make it a holly.
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Sb
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 19, 2006 1:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good topical post with Christmas coming up, Adam.
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mdvaden
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 27, 2006 6:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My interest in plants or gardening started when I was about 19.

In college, I landscaped an acre on my mom's property.

Holly with yellow berries was one plant I used to extend the theme color.

The garden had a "theme color" of yellow. The goal was to keep yellow in view throughout the entire year.

Holly leaves are such a premium foliage.

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M. D. Vaden of Oregon

Portland Landscape & Trees
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Adamn Greathead
Rank attained: Hazel Tree
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Joined: 12 Sep 2006
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Location: West Midlands

PostPosted: Tue Nov 28, 2006 6:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Mdvaden
I haven't personally seen yellow holly myself, for the obvious reason it doesn't grow here in the U.K. I bet it was good fun working with an acre of land whilst at college? Thanks for the reply
Best Wishes
Adam
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tinad
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 12, 2006 1:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

That is lovely! I wish so much we had that down here.
Tina D
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Adamn Greathead
Rank attained: Hazel Tree
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Joined: 12 Sep 2006
Posts: 44
Location: West Midlands

PostPosted: Wed Jan 03, 2007 7:39 pm    Post subject: Many apoligies Reply with quote

It has come to my attention that yellow berried holly does grow in the Uk. Despite the fact a huge clump of it is growing right outside my college i seem to have done a boo boo! Sorry folks!
Best Wishes
Adam
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