Thursday, January 15, 2015

Prune Up the Hollies

Such cold weather. It never gets out of the teens in the daytime, and I wake up to single digit temperatures in early morning that make me want to pull the comforter up and have my coffee in bed.

For several seasons now I have known that the branchy winterberry hollies (Ilex verticillata) in the back garden need some work.

They need to be shaped, limbed up, and opened up a bit. Here's a great example to give me an idea of what I am after:
BB Barnes Garden Center in Arden, NC -- found on Hortitopia

I have already lopped off wayward long stems that were getting in the way or overtopping other plants. But what I really need to do is some selective pruning from below.

In my garden, the one on the left needs work. The one on the right is narrower and has been lopped over the years, but could use some finesse pruning too.

There is a third winterberry holly to the left of the shot above, out of the picture, and that needs the most trimming from below.

Winter is the time to do it, when the branches are most visible. It has to warm up a bit first, though.

I need to eliminate the branches that want to arch out and droop over. Winterberry hollies look better as upright forms.


I keep such careful track of what I have planted, but I did not record what cultivar of Ilex verticillata these plants are. I am guessing 'Red Sprite' as they seem to be smaller. I got them at Gledhill and planted four in random spots along the back of the yard in 2007 (but took one out later).

I wish I had massed mine together as they are in the photo from the NC garden center above. It makes a real impact with five of them in a stand, especially after they have been shaped more narrowly and thinned out a bit.

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