Holly Green hedging or Ilex Aquifolium is the quintessential small native evergreen tree associated with Christmas wreaths with the spectacular spiny foliage and bright red berries. This plant in varying guises has been in existence for millions of years in the family Aquifoliaceae culminating in the attractive form we know today having gone through many transformations.
In the time of Christ and subsequently it has also been known as Christ’s thorn and is frequently seen as an illustration on Christmas cards. From medieval times, it has also been referred to in the Christmas carol The Holly and the Ivy in which Jesus is represented as the holly from the crown of thorns and the Virgin Mary as the Ivy with the red berries representing Jesus’s bloodshed so it does have Christian connotations.
Holly Green hedges are generally grown from English seeds in order to get a mix of male and female plants both of which will produce masses of tiny white flowers in spring but only the female will go on to give the familiar red berries. Just one male plant nearby will suffice to pollinate several female plants if putting in a Holly Green hedge.
Ilex Aquifolium planted as a hedge will produce, albeit slowly as growth is only 20-30cm per year, a wonderfully dense and impenetrable security hedge from 90cm upwards which will not only keep out intruders but also look extremely attractive as well. Although best grown in full sun it will also tolerate a certain amount of shade. Holly Green can also be grown as a specimen tree either with just general shaping or as a standard with a clear stem and clipped to a ball shape on top, or with patience could possibly be pleached. Trimming usually takes place in summer.
Ilex Aquifolium is supplied as a pot grown plant at different heights and pot sizes throughout the year to suit all budgets and relative amount of patience available as it is slow growing. The advantage of pot grown plants is that should the weather not be suitable for planting when delivered then they will sit quite happily in the pots until it improves, the only point being that they are kept watered.