Garden Holly and Flowering Ivy – A Bouquet of Christmas Cheer

Plant of December has to be the Garden (Holly) Ilex in all its Xmas colours, there’s a whole lot more to the prickly holly than the common Ilex aquifolium of hedgerows across Europe.

Blood of Christ, pure white flowers of Virgin Mary

When grown as a stately tree the holly is a beautiful example of a medium-sized tree with a dense silvery twisted branch network of brittle stems adorned with sharp pointed leathery evergreen leaves.

Mature Holly trees tend to take on a weeping habit

The much sort of Red Berries of this tree are toxic to humans and will cause stomach upset if eaten, birds are attracted to the fruits as the winter draws on and pickings are thin without harm.

The hungry birds are also responsible for the wide distribution of the common holly widespread in the UK, even declared an invasive weed in areas of the West Coast USA.

Holly and the Ivy are indeed beautiful examples trees and vines that the natural world has graced us with both supporting an ecosystem, attracting pollinators and feeding wildlife an example us humans should hold dear.


Flowering Ivy an important food for pollinators.

Associated with Christmas, religion and in the past worn to ward off evil spirits the Holly with its own built-in security spines, they are a common sight throughout the countryside. Very slow growing the evergreen holly is often found in countryside hedgerows where all year round screening/protection is required.

Hedgerows of Holly and Hawthorn are another common pairing both providing a dense thicket with the Hawthorne quick to establish while the holly slowly weaves its way through its partner’s established frame.

Our final Christmas holiday companion in our Christmas arrangement is European Mistletoe, often considered a parasitic due to its nature of feeding on its host, often causing the tree to grow deformed and stunted. However more lately the opinion that Mistletoe actual provides a wide range of birds and insects with a readily available rich food source.


Mistletoe a parastic provider.

Garden (Holly) Ilex aquifolium makes an excellent garden hedge and for those not willing to wait it is possible to purchase container grew or root balled specimens from 12″ – 12ft high.

If your lucky enough to have all four examples of these plants in your garden, then your Christmas Cheer Bouquet will be inexpensive to assemble. However, Christmas markets and garden centre will have plenty of Christmas floristry available at a premium price.

All the more reason to grow your own Christmas arrangement!

Grow with me on



Stephen Pryce-Lea

Head Gardener and International Horticultural Consultant




“It’s a beautiful thing when a career and a passion grow together, when you find it in a Garden it’s like finding Paradise“

iGrowHort – A Head Gardener’s Horticultural Journey of love, life and learning.





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About Head Gardener 291 Articles
Award winning, 40 something year old professional plantsman and horticulturalist with National Trust, private parks and estate management background. My vast plant knowledge and hands on techinical experience, afforded me the opportunity to work in various horticultural landscapes, in the UK, USA & Eastern Europe. Having worked in both garden retail & the design service industry gave me the practical diversity and managerial skill set, required for running a large prestigious gardens and stately homes. I strongly believe knowledge is to be shared and have worked closely with people and staff of all ages and abilities keen to develop their passion for gardening, including groups of children, special needs and adults. I have hosted guided walks, talks and tours for those keen to learn about cultivated and wild plants, garden development, history and design. As an member of the NNCPG and National Trust, I am actively involved in the preservation of several important plant collections both in public and private gardens throughout the UK. “It’s a beautiful thing when a career and a passion grow together, in a garden it’s paradise” Follow @IGrowHort on GardenTags. Stephen is passionate about gardening as Head Gardener with a team of ten staff he manages a prestigious Cheshire country estate of 55 acres, inc wild flower meadows, woodland, organic kitchen and formal gardens. Follow Stephen today”

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