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Darrell Blackwelder column: Hollies provide colorful berries during the winter season

Well, it didn’t take long for the dreary days of winter to arrive along with shorter days, falling leaves and cloudy, rainy weather. It’s a time when there’s virtually no outdoor color in the landscape. Fortunately, there are a few plant materials that can add winter interest and needed color in our landscapes.

Color is an important component of residential landscaping. Certain cultivars of holly produce abundant berries which is an excellent source of color throughout the winter season. Many species of holly (Ilex sp.) offer a wide range of color from deep reds to transparent yellow. Holly cultivars such as “Fosteri holly,” “Savannah holly” and yaupon hollies provide abundant fluorescent red fruit.

Deciduous hollies have gained tremendous popularity with profuse bright berries, providing a massive show. Leaves fall allowing multitudes of bright berries to shine within the landscape. These berries also important as a food source for wildlife, including bluebirds during the winter months. Deciduous holly cultivars such as “Sparkleberry and “Winterberry” offer a colorful impact for the home landscape and an excellent contrast against an evergreen shrub backdrop. Hurley Park has a splendid collection near the hospital of deciduous and evergreen hollies well worth the visit. You may also notice a vast deciduous holly planting along I-85 North into Davidson County.

Darrell Blackwelder is the retired horticulture agent and director with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service in Rowan County. Contact him at deblackw@ncsu.edu .

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