It will soon be Christmas, and what better way to celebrate the season and bring festive cheer to your garden than with two traditional Christmas favourites – Holly and Ivy. Countless cards carry their image, often with leaves touched by frost or covered with a crisp layer of snow, and your garden displays will have even greater appeal.
These are perfect garden plants, and they’ll provide material for indoor arrangements and table decorations too. What better way to welcome visitors over the Christmas period than with a woven wreath made using holly, ivy and other seasonal flowers and foliage picked from the garden.
Both plant families offer a wide range of wonderful evergreen varieties, with many boasting beautifully variegated leaves. Fruits and berries provide seasonal food for hungry birds, but if you want a few sprigs to enjoy indoors you’ll need to protect berry-laden branches with pieces of tightly fastened fine netting or fleece to keep birds away.
From green to gold, silver and cream, choose holly varieties that add interest to your garden right through the year, including these award-winning varieties:
‘Golden King‘ – Berrying female variety
‘Silver Queen‘ – Male variety
‘J.C. van Tol‘ – Self-fertile berrying female variety
Hedgehog Holly (Ilex ‘Ferox Argentea’) – Male variety
Dozens of ivy varieties are available, and many of the best have received an Award of Garden Merit (AGM) from the Royal Horticultural Society. Here are a few of the most popular ivy varieties to consider for your garden and patio pots:
‘Sulphur Heart‘ (also sometimes called ‘Paddy’s Pride’)
Hedera colchica ‘Dentata Variegata’
‘Glacier‘ – versatile variegated variety, often used in indoor arrangements
‘Ivalace‘ – attractive crimpled and lobed green leaves
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1. Prune holly carefully with secateurs to shorten individual shoots rather than a hedge cutter or shears that can tear and damage leaves.
2. Established, overgrown holly can be cut back hard in spring to encourage new growth to develop from nearer the base to revitalise old plants.
3. Ivy can be invasive, so check growth regularly through the year, snipping off wayward shoots to keep plants in check.
4. Plain green shoots sometimes develop on variegated plants. Prune these away at their base as soon as you spot them.