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A Gem Of A Holly

Why are plants with blue-green leaves among the easiest to place in the landscape? Their foliage can make a small garden or space look bigger and they make an excellent backdrop for many other colors. Unlike yellow-green leaves, blue-green foliage has a calming effect in the landscape.

THERE ARE SEVERAL MESERVE HOLLIES, all with beautiful blue-green foliage that can be used in the landscape in our area. Meserve hollies, Ilex x meserveae, have some specific requirements to perform well, so they have not always been the most popular landscape shrub. Emerald Magic meserve holly, shown above, is changing my mind.

EMERALD MAGIC HAS A ROUNDED SHAPE and is compact, growing only 2 to 4 feet tall and 3 to 4 feet wide. Since most evergreens far exceed this size, this truly compact evergreen is a welcome low-maintenance addition. As an added bonus, it is deer-resistant.

THIS HOLLY REQUIRES AN ACIDIC, MOIST SOIL that is well-drained. It grows best in part shade; I have seen them growing in full sun, but conditions must be ideal for them to be successful. Emerald Magic, a male holly, will flower, but is not showy and produces no fruit. Its main attraction is its glossy, blue-green,  slightly spiny foliage that has a beautiful burgundy tinge in late fall and winter.

EVERGREENS FOR SHADY OR PARTLY SHADY SITES are not easy to find, so even if you have not liked shrub hollies in the past, I encourage you to give this one a try. You will be rewarded with a beautiful low-maintenance addition to your garden.


SHELLY NOLD is a horticulturist and owner of The Plant Kingdom. 4101 Westport Road, Louisville, KY 40207.


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