The common or English holly is easily recognisable for its spine-toothed or spiky leaves which are dark green and glossy in colour. As the trees grow older, the leaves are more likely to be smooth; particularly on the upper parts of trees. The distinctive red berries remain on the tree throughout winter.
Whilst holly is commonly used at Christmas, the tree was seen as a fertility symbol, protect from lightning strikes and charm against witches. It is said that the felling of whole trees was said to bring bad luck.
The holly is fully hardy and can be grown in both full sun and partial shade. It is extremely popular as a topiarised or ornamental shrub and prefers a fertile soil.
Its slow growth rate means that pruning is only required once a year. The low maintenance hedging provides a safe haven for birds and animals as well as being a good alternative to the traditional box hedging.
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