I told you then that I wanted one in my garden.
I spent all winter thinking about it. I discussed it with other bloggers and with my garden bookgroup. I looked at specimens in gardens, at the park and at landscape companies. I mulled it over.
In early April I bought one large enough that I could not move or plant it myself, so I had to have a landscaper put it in. It went in the spot vacated by the demise of the Bradford pear tree that broke apart in last year's heavy snowstorm.
Here she is. Hello, Holly.
It's a female. As you know, hollies have male and female flowers on separate plants and only the females produce the Christmasy red berries.
It has a strong central leader, a nice shape and it was field grown, so it came with a huge root system. Field grown means there was no constricting container or wire cage, it simply grew in the soil, and was dug up to move it and plant it.
It is taller than I am, about 7 feet high, and it took three men to plant it. I'm not going to take a picture of me standing next to it for your reference, so imagine.
It was grown in the next town over --- not only native, but local, and winter-tested in our climate. It has healthy leaves.
There are some things I do not like about the tree I bought.
It grew in a field next to some pine trees, so the back side was shaded and is sparse. In her new home in full sun, this holly should fill out in back with age. (Like we all do. Fill out in back with age.)
Also, I wanted a tree branched to the ground like the arboretum specimen in the photo at the top of this post, and the grower assured me this one was. There is one little branch part way down the bare trunk --- is that his definition of branching to the ground?
But I like seeing the curvy trunk, and Jim needs to mow around it without getting stabbed by the severely spiny leaves, so I am ok with this holly being limbed up. I think that lowest little branch should be pruned off.
I actually broke off a branch fussing with it trying to spread the bottom out a bit. So in addition to being bare below, it's also noticeably lopsided at the base. Mmph. Holly has brittle wood. It just snapped off without much provocation.
I need to get holly a boyfriend. There are no other Ilex opacas around to pollinate this female, and the jury is out as to whether my meserve hybrid hollies or even the winterberry ilex verticallata nearby will do the job.
So now I'm looking for a small 'Jersey Knight' Ilex opaca for a male companion to plant in the same general area.