2016

 
 

Winterberry holly, or Ilex verticillata is a different sort of holly. For one thing it is deciduous, not evergreen; the leaves are not pointed, but small and elliptical, and most significantly the 'Winter Gold' cultivar has beautiful golden berries instead of the usual red. If you're needing something attractive, as well as unique, but not too large, the Winter gold holly is an excellent choice

Winterberry is either a sprawling, multi-stemmed shrub or a small tree that reaches 15 feet. It is native to the eastern half of North America, including Canada, and covers a vast range of climates. Typically it is found at the edge of woods or in swamps which makes it ideal for damp places in your garden. It tends to sucker and form clumps over time unless the ground is kept mowed.

The deciduous leaves are up 3 inches long, shiny green on top, lighter colored beneath. They are handsome and fine textured. The flowers are odorless, white, and bloom in late spring and are not particularly showy. In autumn however, when the leaves have turned a simple yellow and fallen, the green berries begin to turn. These ripen from a gorgeous pinkish-orange in fall to a rich golden-yellow for winter. But only on female plants, because like most hollies, Winterberry is dioecious. It is suggested that at least one male should be bought for up to five females. These berries are held close to the bare stems, singly and in pairs and literally smother the leafless branches. They make a bold color statement at a time of year when everything else in the garden has declined. And the show lasts from autumn through winter. In addition to the pleasure that you will derive from Winter Gold, the wildlife, particularly the birds, will be greatly benefited by the food the berries provide.

Winter Gold is adaptable in most environments in North America, the UK, New Zealand and parts of Australia. They would likely be found only in the more discriminating nurseries or perhaps by mail-order.

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Winterberry

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