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Ilex is a magical plant and a holy Celtic tree

ILEX, KNOWN AS A HOLLY TREE, HAS MAGICAL QUALITIES

In the past, that was a holly Celtic tree. In England, planted near the house, protects against witches. In Ireland, people plant holly a little further away from the house so as not to disturb fairies who like to live in it. Ilex is well established in British culture and is even present in the books of J.K. Rowling. Harry Potter had a wand made of wood of holly.

Ilex altaclerensis

The only variety in our collection, ‘Golden King’, is a popular cross between Ilex x altaclerensis and Ilex aquifolium.

It has nice, spine-free, dark green glossy leaves with an irregular, wide yellow border. Despite its name, it’s a female variety that produces tiny, brownish-red berries. It has no special habitat requirements, it’s satisfied with average, fairly moist soil. It fruits best in a sunny or slightly shaded place (remember to also plant a male plant). It’s resistant to air pollution, grows up to about 4-6 m in height and 2-3 m in width. Suitable for zone 6 (-23°C).
‘Golden King’ is friendly to bees, pollinating insects, the fruit is eagerly eaten by birds. Creates safe nesting places.

 

Ilex aquifolium and Ilex x meserveae

Most often, when we think of holly, we mean plants known as Christmas decorations. With dark green, thorny leaves, and decorative berries. These are Ilex aquifolium and Ilex x meserveae. Both are evergreen and dioecious, i.e. male and female individuals. Small, decorative fruits occur only on female plants. They are insect-pollinated. They are similar, but there are slight differences between them.

 

Ilex aquifolium (English holly)

Is a large shrub or pyramidal tree. It has glossy, dark green (sometimes variegated), wavy-edged, and spiny leaves (sometimes they have no spines). Small, numerous fruits, red or yellow. Can grow in the hardiness zone 6-9 (they are hardy up to -23°C)

  • ‘Golden DJ’® – with yellow-edged leaves, grows up to 100-150 cm in height and 60 cm in width

 

Ilex x meserveae (Meserve holly / blue holly)

Is the result of a cross between Ilex aquifolium and Ilex rugosa. It took the best of both species, i.e. beautiful appearance and better resistance to low temperaturesIlex x meserveae has glossy, very dark green leaves, almost navy-green, prominent spiny margins. The shoots are dark, red-violet. Blue holly has small, red fruits. It can grow in zone 4-7 (they are hardy up to -34°C).

  • ‘Blue Maid’ – glossy dark bluish-green leaves; female variety so in autumn red berries appear; grows to 2,5-4 m height and 1,5-2,5 m width, conical shape
  • ‘Blue Angel’ – blue-green, spiny leaves; small white flowers followed by red berries – female variety; grows to 2,5-4 m height and 1,5-2,5 m width
  • ‘Blue Prince’ – male variety with dark purplish-green  stems and bluish-green leaves; grows to 2,5-4 m height and 2,5-4 m width
  • ‘Heckenblau’ PBR – extremely fast-growing and narrow, from October to April has a unique aubergine-blue winter color, grows up to 150 cm after 10 years
  • ‘Heckenfee’® – slim and dense, with elegant, glossy, dark green leaves, red berries are almost 1 cm in diameter
  • ‘Heckenpracht’ ® – bushy, upright habit, very dense; young shoots are brown later turn into green; leaves are green, slightly serrated, spines-free
  • ‘Heckenstar’® – fast-growing variety – even 50-80 cm in a year, very dense, perfect for hedges
  • ‘Little Rascal’® – compact and dense grows up to 60 cm; glossy leaves, serrated, light green with a brownish hue

 

Ilex crenata – Japanese holly

The Japanese hollies are a group of dense, usually compact, multi-branched evergreen shrubs. They are dioecious, meaning that there are male and female plants. Fruits are small and only on female plants.

Japanese hollies are used as hedges, topiaries, and mass plantings. They like moist, well-drained, slightly acidic soil. Japanese hollies are suitable for hardiness zone 5 or 6 (hardy to -28°C). They tolerate pruning very well. Early spring is the best moment to do heavy pruning just before new growth emerges.
Ilex crenata is a good alternative for Buxus.

  • ‘Caroline Upright’ – male variety; grows to 2,5-3,5 m height, 2,0 m wide
  • ‘Convexa’ – female variety, in autumn black, small berries appear; grows to 80-100 cm height
  • ‘Fastigiata’ – female variety, in autumn black, small berries appear; columnar shape; grows to 1,5-2,5 m height, 50-80 cm wide
  • ‘Golden Gem’ – female variety, in autumn black, small berries appear; yellow-green leaves; grows to 80-120 cm height and similar width
  • ‘Glory Gem’ – female variety, in autumn black, small berries appear; green leaves, dense, grows up to 1-2 m in height
  • ‘Green Glory’ – female variety, in autumn black, small berries appear; grows to 2,0-3,0 m height
  • ‘Green Lustre’ – female variety, in autumn black, small berries appear; grows to 1,5 m in height
  • ‘Stokes’ – female variety, in autumn black, small berries appear; grows to 80 cm in height

 

Ilex maximowicziana ‘Kanehirae’ – Japanese holly

It’s an evergreen, a small-leaved shrub ideal for use as a hedge plant (up to 2 meters). The small leaves are glossy and dark green. Ilex maximowicziana ‘Kanehirae’ has very inconspicuous white flowers in May – June, followed by a small shiny black currant. It grows on almost all soil types to a beautiful hedge. It can be pruned strongly.

Ilex maximowicziana ‘Kanehirae’ is a great alternative to boxwood.
It’s winter hardy to -25°C.

 

Ilex verticillata ‘Oosterwijk’ – winterberry holly

This deciduous plant can reach a height of 5 meters. It has a bushy, upward growth. The green leaf is ovoid to elliptical with a spine-free leaf margin. From May to June, white flowers appear in clusters and later numerous red berries develop. The branches can be used for flower compositions.
Ilex verticillata ‘Oosterwijk’ likes a place in the sun or partial shade. It grows best on a well-drained, humus-rich, slightly acidic, moist, and sandy soil. This plant tolerates a temperature of up to -30°C.

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