Recently on a Saturday between kids birthday parties I had some time to kill so wandered over to a nearby Lowes to look at the plants and I’m glad I did. I shop a lot at Lowes and Home Depot but generally their plant selections aren’t too great, especially the sort of stuff I like, but every once in awhile I get lucky, and I should say Lowes here had a much better selection of what I like than Home Depot, and I still haven’t found a really great local source for what I like (rare interesting conifers).
So I got lucky and picked up three trees, a weeping blue atlas cedar which I’ve wanted since I saw it on Paul James all those years ago, but could never grow before because where I was in Michigan it wasn’t hardy. A vibrant blue upright juniper, which I’ve grown before and I love it as an accent landscape planting, and finally, the one I want to talk about today, a variegated holly.
I had quite frankly never seen a variegated holly before. Overall I’m not a fan of regular hollies, they just don’t do it for me, I think they can end up looking sloppy. I do like the columnar varieties like ilex ‘sky pencil’ though. I see the value in them for the red berries which can be bright and food for wildlife, but I can’t see myself growing a plant just for decorative berries.
However, add the variegated foliage to the mix and I got really excited about it. Not just dark green and red, but dark green, yellow, and red, so much more interesting. Mine of course doesn’t have berries, not yet, but when it does it will look attractive.
It is also nice because while it may feed the birds, it doesn’t feed the deer. The spiky leaves are generally immune to animal browsing, and in my new garden there is definitely deer pressure.
I’ve planted it in the front ornamental garden (in progress) of my future house (in progress). My overall goal with this garden is to make it a cacophony of contrasting foliage plants, similar to a Japanese style garden but not limited to Japanese plants. Flowers are all well and good but a vibrant blue evergreen will be blue all year round, and my hollow will be yellow and green all year round. These are my favorite sorts of gardens and so of course I want one for myself. I will be a showcase for the wide variety of rare dwarf conifers I hope to cultivate,, and this holly will make a nice focal point.