Ilex x altaclarensis “Golden King” – Holly

Yesterday Bosswoman and myself were admiring this holly tree and she commented on how many fruit remained, usually by this time of the year it is looking a little bereft. This could be due to the mild weather ensuring there is still plenty food around for the birds and also that the blackbirds hadn’t arrived yet.  In our garden the blackbirds are seasonal visitors, probably migrating from Scandinavia or perhaps from some more northerly area of the UK (we all know its grim up north).  They are also champion fruit eaters.  This morning as I arrived at work I was greeted by a plucky female blackbird and later met her beau who appeared at the bird table.  So I thought that perhaps it was time to take a picture of the heavily laden tree before the fruit had met their fate and filled the belly of some Norwegian blackbird (I thought they were all blonde).

This holly is Ilex x altaclarenis “Golden King” which is a little confusing as it is a female plant.  It is a cross between I. aquifolium and I. perado and is an extremely tolerant plant.  They are ideal specimens for the diverse challenges of both city pollution and coastal salt and exposure and make very good windbreaks.  Ilex are what is known as dioecious, coming from the Greek for two households, this means that plants are either male or female.  This means that in order to produce the splendid scarlet fruit a male plant needs to be in the vicinity and bees or other insects will transfer the pollen to the female. Another triumph for the bees.



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2 responses to “Ilex x altaclarensis “Golden King” – Holly

  1. Alan Bannister

    We have masses of ‘wild’ holly growing in the woods that back onto our garden here in Herts. However the verigated variety we planted on our side of the fence has only grown a few inches in about five years. Short of burying a blackbird under it, any ideas on what might get it to grow?

    • If other hollies are growing nearby it would suggest that this is good holly territory. Variegated forms are often weaker than their full bloodied counterparts but this one sounds pretty pathetic. Either the plant is a duff one, the runt of the litter, or there is something very localised that is upsetting it. If it is not too big I would try moving it to see if it does better elsewhere, otherwise I would ask Father Christmas for a new one.

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