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Winter beauty

Plants create lovely palette in winter months

Winter in the garden can be one of the most beautiful seasons with proper planning. My theory is to always plan to place a tree, shrub or perennial that has great winter interest in a location that you see frequently through the winter months. I have five Pink Lady hellebores, a perennial that typically blooms from January to April, planted in an area that I see each day in the winter as I walk to and from my car.

There are lots of winter interest plants. Most notably are the hollies. The most common fruit color of hollies is red, but there are also hollies with yellow, peach and even orange fruit. So, if red is not your color, no worries, you have options.

The deciduous hollies have the advantage of losing their leaves each fall, exposing stems full of yellow, gold, orange or red fruit for us to enjoy. The stems full of fruit are not only beautiful in the garden, but can be cut and used for decorating for the fall or winter holiday season. 

Hollies have one very specific requirement—they require pollination to produce fruit. Holly plants are either male or female, but not both, so only the female plants can produce fruit. If you plant any holly with the intent to enjoy the fruit, make sure you also plant a male or make sure that there is a male holly nearby. Any holly can pollinate any other holly as long as the bloom sequence crosses. Your best bet to ensure fruit set is to plant a specific pollinator matching the variety of your female. For example, if you plant Berry Poppins Winterberry also plant Mr. Poppins Winterberry, or for Winter Gold deciduous holly, shown above, plant Southern Gentleman deciduous holly for pollination. One male holly can pollinate several females.

Deciduous hollies are very adaptable and best planted in your landscape as a long hedge, in large groups or several small groups that are in close proximity of each other. They look beautiful like this, but more importantly, it is necessary because the birds love eating the beautiful fruit. So, the more plants you have, the more likely they won’t eat all the fruit leaving some for you to enjoy.

SHELLY NOLD is a horticulturist and owner of The Plant Kingdom. Send stories and ideas to her at The Plant Kingdom, 4101 Westport Road, Louisville, KY 40207.

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