The gardener's eye

The Gardener's Eye

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Going for the Green at the Arnold


A sunny winter day is the perfect time to scour the Arnold Arboretum for evergreen plants. I was there last weekend and I went from green shrub to green shrub. I photographed each and then its ID plaque/plate. Once I got home, I tried to figure out which plants might be useful for my own garden.

Here's what I found:

Ilex pedunculosa aka Longstalk Holly Zone 5 One of the hardiest of the evergreen hollies. Grows about 15 feet tall. I'll need a male and a female. It was used near the entrance to the Visitor's Center. I will keep on a list.

Berberis julianae 'Nana' aka Wintergreen Barberry Probably hardy to Zone 5. Very nice long foliage.  It gets a nice bronzy-red foliage in winter but is susceptible to leaf burn in windy conditions. Major league spines. 'Nana' grows to 5 feet. It doesn't appear to be invasive. On the maybe list.

Ilex glabra aka Inkberry Zone 5 I have tried this one before, without a lot of success. A native holly, looks great at the Arnold. Some sources say that it might be a bit fussy about moisture so I don't think I will try again.

Ilex ciliospinosaaquifolium x pernyi 'September Gem' Zone A Triple cross holy. It had really beautiful foliage. I didn't think the habit was particularly nice. It looks like 6 so probably not in the running.

Ilex aquifolium aka English Holly. Zone 6ish. It looks a lot like the previous plant in habit. I think hardiness makes it a no.

Prunus laurocerasus 'Otto Luyken' Cherry Laurel Zone 6. This plant was very pretty and I think its lack of hardiness explains why I am not very familiar with it. Sad to say probably won't be happy in NH.

Ilex crenata 'Helleri' Japanese Holly Zone 5 or 6 depending on who you read. I have been toying with trying a Japanese holly for a while. This cultivar only grows to about 4 feet. There may be a place for a hardy cultivar in woodland garden because it can tolerate shade.

Rhododendron carolinianum x laetevirens 'Waltham' Zone 5 Looks like it would be hardy (-20F) can handle dry shade. Low growing. Pink flowers in May. R. carolinianum is a hardy native. My neighbor has R. x laetevirens or Wilson Rhododendron in her garden. It is really tough and has nice foliage. The flowers are pretty subtle so maybe 'Waltham' would be worth a try in the woodland garden.

Ilex aquifolium 'Blue Prince' Same as the English Holly above. Probably not hardy enough.

I am still on the lookout for some evergreens in my woodland garden but Ilex pedunculosa, Berberis julianae 'Nana', Ilex crenata, and Rhododendron carolinianum x laetevirens 'Waltham' have gotten my attention. My search for a nice evergreen in the woodland has not ended. If anyone has some suggestions, I'd love to hear them!


  1. Ilex pedunculosa is very pretty with the berries hanging on their own little stems. I thought seriously about getting one (so I need two?) for my old garden in Rosemont. I was expensive then. I think close to $300. Prunus laurocerasus seems to thrive easily about everywhere--except in my garden. I pulled out three this year after trying them probably four years. That's a good idea, visiting the Arnold in winter to make decisions on evergreens.

  2. Now, I'm getting more interested in Ilex pedunculosa. Yes, my understanding is I will need a male and a female. I have the same experience with certain (Echinacea in my garden) plants: they are very easy to grow for everyone but me.

  3. Great post. That's a nice variety of vibrant winter green. And it's also amazing the difference between z 6 and z 5 offerings...I think about soil alkalinity, sunlight intensity and cloud cover, which decreases the ones you show even down here in z 7b. Though we can also add Rhaphiolepis, Ilex x burfordii, Ilex vomitoria, and a few others. Before spring hits (and it hits fast in Abq), I need to finish my winter landscape and evergreen plant reviews.

    1. I former employee moved to UT and was asking me for advice about a planting in her yard and I realized how little I know about plants that live in hot and dry climates. For instance, I have never heard of Ilex x burfordii or Ilex vomitoria. I referred her to your site for inspiration.

  4. Michael, here we don't see many Ilex. Likeable plants. In a dream garden, I'd like groves of them.

    1. I grew up in Pennsylvania and I remember driving through neighboring New Jersey and witnessing some amazing specimens of the American holly, Ilex opaca. It doesn't do well here, so it is too depressing to attempt to grow an unhappy plant when I've seen it grow so well in its native environment.

  5. Excellent idea to look at evergreen insitu! I love ilex too, and it does well in my Zone 6, but a woodpecker did some incredible damage on two of my Ilex 'Nellie R. Stevens.' Apparently they drilled holes in the trunk which release the sap which attracts insects, which they find delectable! I had to burlap the trunk and branches! This is a Zone 7 - 9 ilex but because we've planted them next to the house in Southern and Western locations with some dappled sunshine in Summer, they have been quite happy.

  6. Acabei de conhecer o seu blog e achei maravilhoso. Me visite:
    Siga-me e pegue o meu selinho!!!


    Beijos Marie.



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