BBC HomeExplore the BBC
This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving.

16 October 2014
Gardener's Corner

BBC Homepage
BBC Northern Ireland

Gardeners' Corner
This week...
John Cushnie on...
Monthly Garden Tips

Gardening Events

The Allotment
Tweedie Garden
Seaside Garden
Kitchen Garden

Book Reviews
Flower Arranging
Terrific Trees

Live Chat
Meet the Team
Contact The Team


Contact Us

Autumn 2003
Terrific Trees

Ilex aquifolium (Holly)

WTPL/Peter Paice from BelfastWith Christmas just around the corner, the Woodland Trust simply couldn’t let our well-known and well-loved holly tree go without a mention. This evergreen shrub or small tree is a firm favourite; it is visually attractive and instantly recognisable, even by the youngest of nature lovers.

Holly is guaranteed to brighten up any garden and, thankfully, you need not have a huge garden to accommodate this species. You can enjoy the beauty of the individual tree or plant it as a hedge; the slow-growing holly will provide a wonderfully dense and protective boundary.

WTPL/Peter Paice from Belfast

Holly Tree: Photo by WTPL/Rosanna BallentineThe distinctive leaves are bright or dark green, tough and spiny. From October, the (female) tree shows off its ripe fruit – brilliant clusters of scarlet berries. Did you know that holly trees are either male or female? Both produce fragrant small white flowers, but only the female bears berries. The berries are popular with many birds and they will help decide just how long the fruit may stay on the tree!

Photo right: WTPL/Rosanna Ballentine

Of course, it’s not just our feathered friends who have a keen interest in the berries. Each Christmas we use sprigs of holly to decorate and brighten our homes and this has in fact been common practice for centuries. At one time, holly sprigs in the home were believed to ward off evil spirits. The tree’s mystic or sacred associations seem to have continued through to modern times and, even today, some would consider it unlucky to cut down a holly tree.

WTPL/Peter Paice from BelfastPlant your holly between November and March. This beautiful tree may be slow growing but it’s definitely well worth the wait.

WTPL/Peter Paice from Belfast

Back to Terrific Trees homepage


Image of a wheelbarrow

Ideas or Suggestions?

Back to top


About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy