JOHN’S JOURNAL

The Holly & The Ivy

At this time of year the Holly berries are beginning to shine and any Mature Ivy will also be full of berries, it also makes us immediately think of the Christmas Carol ‘The Holly & The Ivy’ which dates back to the early 18th Century and as the weeks go by it will be heard on a regular basis!

At the nursery we always like to give our events a name and this time it’s the turn of our Christmas Markets with our first two of five being named ‘Holly’ and then ‘Ivy’, it’s very apt for this time of year as the Holly bushes are laden with berries as the temperatures are still mild for the time of year and as soon as they do fall the birds will be out there harvesting the berries for food to see them through the colder Winter months. The Holly bush is a quintessentially English plant with the common form bearing green leaves and bright red berries, it’s perfect for having as a large specimen in the garden which you will then annually prune whilst foraging foliage to make a wreath and also to decorate the home, you could also plant it as part of a mixed hedge, if you also want interesting coloured foliage then there’s forms of Holly with silver variegated leaves and also golden variegated leaves. Ilex Argentea Marginata is a good silver variegated variety, it will also bear red berries. You always need to bear in mind that Holly bushes are either Male, or Female. The females will flower in the Spring and then be cross pollinated by Bees who have also landed on the flowers of the male Holly bushes. Then the flowers get pollinated and the berries will begin to swell later on in the Summer. Don’t be fooled by the names though, as one of the best golden variegated forms called Golden King is one of the best female varieties!

Hollies can also be grown in pots, as long as you use a good soil based compost like John Innes No.3 then it will be nice and happy, then feed annually in March with Vitax Q4 to help encourage masses of flowers.

Ivies are also found across the country in many shapes and forms, if you have a large wall they will cling and climb, they will also ramble through a hedgerow twisting their way around other plants, but they also make the perfect counterpart for pots and containers trailing over the corners, they are great for flower arranging as their waxy foliage lasts well and there’s the same colour variation available as Holly!

It’s been a busy week at the nursery getting ready fo the Christmas Season and the start of our Markets which now run for the next 5 weekends, you can book a timeslot online or you can also happily turn up as we always have lots of spaces for walk ins, a winter wonderland is in the making and if we happen to get a few frosty mornings the nursery comes to life and with the crackle of the firepit you won’t find anywhere else like it!

 

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

Here you can send in and find out the answers to those gardening problems?

 

Why is my Holly not berrying?

If you bought it with berries on then it sounds like it’s not getting pollinated, they can get pollinated by males in the area around your home however if not then plant yourself a male Holly bush, this will then complete the cycle and give you a female Holly bush laden with flowers and then berries.

When is the best time to give Holly a hard prune?

The best bet is to give it a light trim now which will help promote dormant buds to wake up lower down, then you can give them a harder prune at the end of February, normally you would remove shoots amongst shoots, but going back down to bare stems you need to do it right at the end of Winter just before the sap rises, Hollies do have the ability to shoot out of old wood, it’s always a shame to prune holly trees too hard as they are very slow growing, see if you can accommodate its size and maybe make some space around it.

Will Ivy grow in shade?

Ivy loves shade and will also tolerate dry soil, so it’s good for a dark corner and look at some of the white variegated varieties to add a bit of brightness. It’s also great for using as a trailing plant in pots and troughs and it can be trimmed to maintain its size. The climbing forms come in all shapes and sizes with big and smaller leaves varieties.

 

JOBS FOR THE WEEKEND

1 – CHECK POT FEET

Any large pots and containers want to be raised up on feet or slivers of stone to help them drain through the Winter Months

2 – CLEAR FALLEN LEAVES

Clear up any fallen leaves and add to the compost heap, also check for any leaves which have fallen into ponds and fish out

3 –PLACE BIRD FEEDERS

Fill them with food and position them around the garden to help encourage feathered friends during the colder months

4 – PLANT TREES AND SHRUBS

It’s a great time through the Winter months to plant trees and shrubs and at the nursery we still have a frame filled with some pants that are 50% off

 

PLANT OF THE WEEK

Callicarpa ‘Snow Queen’

A beautiful pure white form of Callicarpa with many clusters of pure white berries. It’s only a small shrub so great for working into the border and will hold its berries well into the Winter months. It also looks great against Callicarpa ‘Profusion’ which is the purple berried form.