Holly (Ilex aquifolium)
Holly is slow growing but tremendously useful, not only as an impenetrable evergreen hedge, but also as it is very hardy; it grows in deep shade and on a wide range of well drained soil types, including light and heavy soils. Holly provides a good protective habitat for birds and small mammals, and of course they love the female plant's berries. It's also the food plant of the Holly Blue butterfly pictured. It transplants poorly, and we consequently sell it in containers rather than bare root.
Holly is a long lived tree that has left its mark in place names all over Britain. It had an important practical use in the past as it was fed to livestock in winter, which may have contributed to the belief that perseveres at least locally here that it is bad luck to cut it down. Its thorny deciduous leaves and its weak suckering tendency make it a good hedging plant for urban locations; it's well behave but makes a great privacy or security hedge.
Mature specimens were often left in the countryside when hedges were grubbed out, as marker or boundary trees. Holly has always been seen as a powerful magical plant too, with uses ascribed to it ranging from preventing ringworm to having power over horses - together with the pliability of its wood this made it the most popular wood for whips. Its very pale colour and propensity to take colour from staining also made it a favourite wood for furniture inlays.
We are currently offering holly as small 30-40cm plants.
Holly suppliers: Perrie Hale Forest Nursery/RV Roger
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Time to Ultimate Height
Over 20 years
Clay, loam, sand, chalk
Neutral, acid, alkaline
Sheltered or exposed
Full or partial sun