Holly berries

by Pippa Greenwood

A Christmas without holly berries is barely a Christmas at all. It's a bit like apple crumble without ice cream...

Holly berriesA Christmas without holly berries is barely a Christmas at all. It's a bit like apple crumble without ice cream - sadly lacking! Fortunately we've had a fantastic show of berries this year, even some of the hollies that have never shown any berries previously (which we'd assumed were male) have got a fair smattering of bright red, waxy fruits, proving their femininity at long last!

They look great and they're a very useful source of food for local wildlife. But I want some too. The only way to stop birds eating the berries is to wrap them in fine netting. I've been out covertly covering berry-laden holly branches in my local area, so if you've seen a well-wrapped figure in Hampshire, with hat pulled down low, wrapping the odd holly branch in netting, I confess it was me.

If I hadn't covered the berries, by the time my urge to start decorating the house, making Yule logs and constructing a Christmas wreath kicks in, there won't be a berry in sight. I've left the vast majority for the birds, just a few for us and I have 'traded' them for a large spread of cut-open apples and other bird treats.

Perhaps some other humans will get there first and cut down the holly branches for themselves. If they do, I'll have to make do with wired-in skimmia berries instead!

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Gardeners' World Web User 05/12/2008 at 21:08

This is the first year that my aquafolium Ilex has had only one berry on and this is well hidden from the birds. I am lucky to have friends that allow me to prune there Ilex's for them so I have avast amount to play with in teaching workshops christmas wrealths,garlands and table arrangements, so as there are no berries we use other sources of berries that will achieve just as wonderful a display as if using our Ilex berries. There is the crataegus orientalis,Sorbus aira'Lutescens' and Skimmia japonica.

Gardeners' World Web User 13/11/2009 at 09:53

Is there a secret to having lots of berries on holly? I have a very poor show of berries on my bushes each year despite having a number of different varieties. Is there anything I can treat the bushes with earlier in the year?

Gardeners' World Web User 06/04/2010 at 19:14

when is the best time to prune holly

Gardeners' World Web User 28/11/2011 at 18:37

I have 5 hollys and have never had a berry on any,shall I leave them and hope that they will have berries, are there any holly plants that WILL have any berries?

Nicola Lois 05/01/2012 at 12:15

if my tree is male; is there no hope of berries? How will I know unless lack of berries is the only way to tell. This tree came from many tiny trees growing under a very full of berries tree.