2019, Plant-of-the-month, Uncategorized

Plant-of-the-Month: Winterberry Holly

 

winterberry

People are often surprised that Winterberry Holly, or Ilex verticillata, is a holly at all, because it doesn’t have the glossy, spiky leaves that you think of when you hear the name Holly. And unlike the traditional Holly (Ilex meserveae cvs), it loses its leaves in the winter, which also seems foreign to “Holly”. While this is often seen as a bad characteristic, in this case it is when Winterberry shines, as the female plants are covered from head to toe in bright red berries. A hedge of Winterberry Holly can be a real showstopper in the snow, and the berries persist a long time- or, at least, until the birds are done with them or you have picked them for holiday decorations!

‘Red Sprite’ Winterberry grows to be about 3-4’ x 3-4’ and us very compact. It is hardy to Zone 3, so will tolerate some pretty cold conditions. ‘Sparkleberry’ is similar, but is bigger, at 8-10’ x 8-10’. Both plants will produce more berries if a male is somewhere in the vicinity, so get a ‘Southern Gentleman’ or a ‘Jim Dandy’ and stick it somewhere inconspicuous, as there are no berries and the flowers are inconsequential.

Winterberries prefer full sun to part shade and can be used in wetland areas as well in places with normal amounts of moisture. They won’t do as well in very dry conditions, although I have been surprised before.

Try some! They will make you happy when the landscape begins to look a little forlorn.

winter landscape

January 2018, What to do in the garden

What to do with your Christmas tree?

Christmas is over, and by now most of us have taken down our trees. They have served us well, but now what? Some towns have recycling programs, but what if you want to recycle them at home? Here are a few ideas. Let us know what you do with yours!

1.Strip off the branches. Some perennials, like Lavender, for example, like a little protection in the winter. Christmas tree boughs are just the thing. They have enough body to them to hold the snow off the plants a little bit and create a cocoon around them, while allowing air to flow.

2. Use the trunk as support. A stout Christmas tree trunk can be used in all sorts of ways – as a support for beans or clematis or other climbing plant (the little nubs left from where the branches were really help them get started climbing) or cut up and used as a decorative border around a plant. I even knew someone once who had an entire fence made of Christmas trees!

3. Let the trees be a winter home for wildlife. Like plants, many animals and birds need shelter from the harsh winter winds. By laying your tree somewhere protected, you can create a much needed escape for them.

Chickadee

 

IMG_0359Photo by Ben Rowland c. 2017

IMG_0363Photo by Ben Rowland c. 2017