It may be officially fall, but it's beginning to look a little like Christmas in my front yard - my Winterberry Hollies are on full berry display!
So why are they called Winterberries?
Winterberry Hollies are actually deciduous. Their leaves fall off, leaving just the gorgeous berries that remain over winter (thus Winterberries!) I know many people prefer evergreen hollies, but I like the softer leaves of the Winterberries better than many of the stiff, glossy evergreen varieties. And how gorgeous do these branches look with just beautiful red berries on them?
|Random fact: Of the 400 species of hollies in the world, only about 30 are deciduous.|
Cut branches are often used in Christmas arrangements. You don't even need to put them in water; dry cut branches will keep well for weeks. Left outside, on the other hand, they will only last until the birds get to them! Last year all of my berries were gone by February, but we had so much fun watching the birds while they were eating them.
|I think the Winterberries attracted every Bluebird on this side of town!|
('Winter Red' is actually supposed to prefer the later pollinating 'Southern Gentleman', but 'Jim Dandy' seems to do the trick for mine - either that or my girls have been seeing other males on the side, which is very possible with all the wild hollies that loiter in my neck of the woods...)
|Winterberry Holly 'Winter Red'|
|Winterberry Holly 'Winter Gold'|
photo source: J. Reeves, UT Gardens
The one thing they don't tolerate, however, is alkaline soil - only plant Winterberries in acidic soil unless you want them to turn yellow and keel over on you. But if you are looking for a great shrub to plant this fall in one of those tough, wet, clay (and acidic) sites, Winterberry Holly just might be the ticket!
Happy Fall Gardening!