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Among the many varieties of holly, there is bound to be one that will find its place in your garden. Sometimes persistent, it brings a decorative touch to the balcony, the beds, the hedge… and the Christmas table thanks to its small colorful berries. Christian symbol associated with the birth of Jesus, this shrub renowned since Antiquity and which requires little care, is presented to us by Charlie de Jardiland.
How many varieties of holly are there?
The genus Holly (Ilex) alone forms a family of almost four hundred species, that of Aquifoliaceae. This means that the choice of varieties is vast! The most common is easily recognizable by its thorny leaves and small red fruits, the drupes, which brighten up our natural spaces in winter. Please note, if birds can safely consume holly berries, they are toxic to humans due to the theobromine they contain. Note that only female holly has berries, and these can also be black, bright yellow, orange, and even white. Male holly, on the other hand - depending on the species - is covered with prickly leaves, while female holly leaves are still devoid of it.
What variety of holly to choose?
We can associate several varieties of holly like Ilex aquifolium also called English holly or European holly, Ilex verticillata (whorled holly) with deciduous foliage, native to America. The most common variety (Ilex aquifolium) is available in many specimens, some of which have long, green leaves, others with variegated foliage, others with spiky spines. Among the lesser known holly trees are Ilex pyramidalis aureomarginata, the leaves of which do not bear thorns, and Ilex amber, the fruits of which are yellow. Other golden fruit holly: Ilex aquifolium var. chrysocarpa Loes. To discover these plants, do not hesitate to go to the National Conservatory of Ilex which is none other than the fabulous Arboretum des Prés des Culand, in Meung sur Loire in the Loiret.
It is said that holly is not only decorative, but that it can be used for other purposes, what do you think?
It is totally true. Holly can be used in the garden as an impassable hedge. It is a very natural way to close off your living space. It is also a responsible attitude that helps preserve ecosystems. Making a holly hedge will please many species of birds that feed on winter holly berries. And then holly is used as a shelter for small garden animals and some game. We can therefore say that in addition to being decorative, holly is useful. With its wood, you can even make objects like Goethe cane, entirely made of holly wood!
Is holly fragile?
Of relatively slow growth, the various holly trees with undeniable ornamental qualities are appreciated for their robustness: they are able to resist insects and diseases, which avoids the use of polluting treatment products. They are pleasant in all soils, provided they are well drained, but their favorites are acidic soils. On the other hand, they don't really appreciate drafts. Finally, their longevity is extraordinary: we have counted many holly trees over three hundred years old.