While flowers of perennials and woodies most often grace these pages, there are numerous long established evergreens in the garden. Once, these were most favored, and still they are the backbone that connects parts of the garden through the seasons. Hollies, magnolias, and yew were humble introductions into the business side of gardening, and the start of two personal gardens, though these have been supplanted in favor in recent decades by less common paperbushes (Edgeworthia), mahonias, and a variety of large leafed perennials.
In recent weeks, masses of red berries (Koehne holly, above) have been featured, but hollies were once selected first for foliage, and no matter that distinctions in leaf size and form are relatively minor, and of no apparent interest to a portion of the populace that might know ‘Nellie R. Stevens’, or no holly at all. A dozen hollies (guessing, probably several more) of similar appearance are most prominent in late autumn and winter, several unfortunately emerging only then from beneath wide spreading katsura (Cercidiphyllum japonicum) and Japanese maples (Acer palmatum, A. japonicum and others) .
Two variegated English hollies (Ilex aquifolium ‘Argentea Marginata’, above) stand out, not for size since they grow reluctantly in this environment, but for the distinctive contrast of foliage coloration. Several variegated Chinese hollies (Ilex cornuta) were grown and discarded long ago when variegation was hardly noticeable. I presume the two English hollies are males since no berries have been witnessed, though it is possible there is not a suitable pollinator nearby.
With warming temperatures, the longevity of several conifers becomes questionable, but others have long thrived in sunnier spots of the garden. I expect these will be around at least as long as I am. Blue and yellow needles are most prominent in the garden’s dormant months, and several conifers reserve brightest coloring for the winter, presumably due to a lack of heat stress.