by Beth Chatto
Holly and ivy are the primary images of many Christmas cards, symbols of life carrying on when much else appears dead or has vanished beneath the frozen surface. I would almost go so far as to say they should be in every garden, but perhaps I should substitute "something evergreen" instead of being so specific.
Not everyone has the room or the right conditions for large-growing evergreens. I am thinking of laurels and rhododendrons in particular. But hollies can be found in all shapes and sizes; many are plain, but no less handsome, while several are variegated.
There are seven pages of holly in Messrs Hilliers’ Manual of Trees and Shrubs to tempt the reader, and a walk among the Holly Collection at Kew Gardens will undoubtedly fire the imagination. Some will be difficult to obtain, but nurserymen will be pleased to propagate more unusual plants if enough of us ask for them.
If you look out of your favorite window now, are you satisfied with the view?
Does it lack design?
Would a small-leafed, narrowly-pyramidal holly do anything for it, and how many plants can you see which remain green - or grey, or bronze - throughout the winter, furnishing the bare soil at ground level?
— Beth Chatto, garden writer and gardener, Beth Chatto's Garden Notebook, January