- Most hollies are easily cultivated in sun or half-shade in an average garden soil, alkaline to acidic, avoiding extremes of wet or dry.
- Most evergreen hollies flower in spring, in the leaf axils of the previous year’s shoots.
- The flowers are small, with four petals. Male flowers are produced in crowded clusters with prominent pollen-covered stamens; females have prominent green ovaries.
- Male and female flowers are found on separate trees. A non-fruiting holly might be a male plant or a female plant with no pollinating male within bee-range.
- Any male holly should be able to pollinate females of the English and Highclere hollies. Sometimes a male holly from a neighbouring garden will do the trick, but if space permits, it is worth planting a male cultivar as a companion nearby.
- Reliable pollinators for large spaces include I. x altaclerensis ‘Hodginsii’; in middle-sized spaces try I. aquifolium ‘Laurifolia’ or the gold-margined I. aquifolium ‘Laurifolia Aurea’ (pictured below).
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Hollies for hedges
Holly hedges are one of the joys of British gardens. Most of the hardy evergreen hollies available in the UK can be used as a hedge or screen but few can match the English holly for all-round quality and effect.
Most cultivars of I. aquifolium, particularly those of a dense, bushy nature, will soon knot together to form a hedge of rich texture. Plant young, at 60cm tall or so, and 60-75cm apart in the row, preferably in autumn. Once established, keep in shape by trimming annually in August with shears or a hedge-trimmer.
Where to see holly
• Westonbirt Arboretum, Tetbury, Gloucestershire GL8 8QS
• RHS Garden Rosemoor, National Collection holder. Torrington, Devon EX38 8PH
• RHS Garden Wisley, Woking, Surrey GU23 6QB
• Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, Inverleith Road, Edinburgh EH3 5LR
• Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, Surrey TW9 3AB
• The Savill and Valley Gardens, Wick Lane, Englefield Green, Surrey TW20 0UU
• The Sir Harold Hillier Gardens and Arboretum, Jermyns Lane, Ampfield, Hampshire SO51 0QA
Where to buy holly
• Farmyard Nurseries, Dol Llan Road, Llandysul, Carmarthenshire SA44 4RL
• Highfield Hollies, Liss, Hampshire GU33 7NH
• Larch Cottage Nursery, Melkinthorpe, Penrith, Cumbria CA10 2DR
• Mallet Court Nursery, Curry Mallet, Somerset TA3 6SY