Yorkshire Post - YP Magazine

Chill out with fine foliage of Chinese holly


You could be forgiven for thinking this is a traditiona­l holly. But it’s not – it’s Osmanthus Heterophyl­lus, a slow-growing shrub with lovely, vibrant variegated leaves.

In autumn, it also produces tiny fragrant blooms. But it’s usually cultivated just for its foliage. Grow it as a specimen or a hedge, pruning it lightly in summer to keep it shapely. It prefers a sunny site and a welldraine­d, fertile soil.

What it doesn’t like is a chill wind; try to position it where it will have some protection. Left to its own devices, Osmanthus Heterophyl­lus could eventually reach a height of 15ft.

Oh, it’s also known as the Chinese holly. So, not the traditiona­l holly of the English landscape – the evergreen tree which can reach a height of 30 foot and which has smooth bark and extremely prickly leaves.

The plants, which are important food supply for numerous species of birds and insects, are either male or female, with only the female producing the red berries.

Holly comes in hundreds of varieties, including Ilex aquifolium “Argentea Marginata”, which has broadly oval, spiny dark green leaves streaked with wide cream margins that can be pink coloured when the leaves are young.

Meanwhile, Ilex “Atlas” is an upright male shrub that has spiny, glossy dark green leaves and is an excellent choice for landscapin­g or hedging.

But it’s difficult to talk about holly without ivy getting a mention. Some consider it as a dark and oppressive plant.

Ivy’s bad reputation was probably gained because it grows by clinging to trees and bushes, seemingly choking them to death. However, it is actually an incredibly valuable plant for wildlife – it provides shelter at all times and the winter flowers and berries are a reliable food source when other supplies have almost disappeare­d.

Some forms clamber extensivel­y while others never get off the ground and are thus ideal as weed-suppressor­s.

 ?? ?? SLOW-GROWING: The confusing leaves of Osmanthus Heterophyl­lus, which can reach 15ft in height.
SLOW-GROWING: The confusing leaves of Osmanthus Heterophyl­lus, which can reach 15ft in height.
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