Traditional appeal: why we love Holly and Ivy

Holly and Ivy have been in British gardens for centuries. They’re great plants to grow, and they have fascinating stories as well, bringing history as well as beauty into the garden.

 

Holly and Ivy traditions

Holly (Ilex aquifolium) is one of our oldest native evergreen shrubs, used for centuries as hedging.  In the middle ages, prickly-leaved holly was said to protect the home from evil spirits, and it was considered unlucky to cut down a holly tree.

Ivy (Hedera helix) also has fascinating traditions and legends. The ancient Greeks and Romans associated it with the god of wine, and in medieval times, taverns sometimes hung a bunch of ivy outside their doors. It’s also seen as a symbol of peace and fidelity, and it’s often used in wedding bouquets.

 

How to grow Holly

With its bright berries and glossy green leaves, holly stands out in winter. Birds love it for the berries and as a safe nesting place. Holly copes well with most soil conditions, and it’s happy growing in sun or partial shade. There are variegated hollies too: ‘Silver Queen’ has white-edged foliage, while the dark green leaves of ‘Golden Queen’ are edged in yellow. Holly berries aren’t just red either – there’s ‘Bacciflava’ with golden yellow berries and ‘Amber’ with warm orange.

 

How to make sure your Holly has berries

Hollies are either male or female, and for a holly with berries, you’ll need to choose a female variety. The simplest way to do this is to buy your holly in winter, and pick one with berries on! You’ll also need to make sure there is a male holly nearby (if other hollies in your neighbourhood have berries, that’s a good indication). We’ve listed below some of the most popular male and female holly varieties.

  • Ilex ‘Silver Queen’ (male)
  • Ilex ‘Golden Queen’ (male)
  • Ilex ‘Argentea Marginata’ (female)
  • Ilex ‘Handsworth New Silver’ (female)
  • Ilex ‘J C van Tol’ (self-fertilising female, so doesn’t need a pollination partner)

 

How to grow ivy

Ivy 'Glacier'Ivy gets a bad reputation for rampaging out of control and damaging walls, but when properly looked after, ivy is a fantastically useful plant. It will grow pretty much anywhere, even in full shade, so it’s great for covering bare north-facing walls and structures.  Mature ivies make excellent nesting sites for birds, and bees love the round green flowers that appear in late summer

Ivy doesn’t have to be boring either. Variegated varieties like Ivy ‘Glacier’ with its cream-edged, grey-green leaves, or gold variegated Ivy ‘Goldchild’, are perfect for lighting up shady corners. To keep ivy under control, cut it back hard in early spring.

Holly and ivy aren’t just for Christmas - they’ll add life and interest to your garden all year round. Why not pop into our garden centre to choose your favourite?

You might also be interested in:

Create a special something for Mother’s Day

The one day of the year we celebrate Mothers everywhere, will soon be here and it’s a day to recognise, appreciate and thank the special lady in our life. You could go for an exclusive meal or a girls day at the spa but nothing is more appreciated than a handmade gift for Mum. There is something special about the time and effort spent on a gift made at home and you won’t be short of ideas if you read on…

Read more...
Home trend: Geometric Shapes

Geometric shapes are a great way to help create bright and modern interiors. If used well, they can give a perfect balance with interesting fabrics and accessories, adding a harmonious touch to home interiors. The modern edges of geometry provide a contemporary touch and it’s becoming more popular all across the world. But how to use geometric shapes in your home and how do to involve plants in the design style? Have a read through these ideas to get you started! 

Read more...
What can we learn from Piet Oudolf?

There is a lot about planting and garden design that we can learn from Piet Oudolf, his romantic and naturalistic approach to planting large landscapes is special and different to many other designers, which is why he is so influential in the industry. His style can be replicated in any size garden with some tweaks here and there for size but the natural drama and colour he creates for all year interest is second to none. Take a look at some of his work in places such as The Millennium Garden at Pensthorpe Natural Park to Battery Park in New York, also the High Line in New York to County Cork Garden in Ireland. So what can we learn from Piet Oudolf?

Read more...
3 ways you can join Garden Re-leaf Day

Greenfingers Charity Garden Re-Leaf Day is a popular event which is held annually and helps to raise much-needed funds to transform the lives of children spending time in hospices across the country. The magical gardens created at these hospices bring much-needed respite and joy to children and their families lives. This year is the eighth Garden Re-Leaf Day on Friday 22nd March 2019 and there are many ways you can get involved from organising walks, cycling challenges along with quiz nights, raffles and cake sales. Here are a few ideas! 

Read more...
Source: Green Fingers Charity