For a textural approach, wrap twine, in assorted colors and thicknesses, around a foam wreath form. Use glue to attach the end of the twine to the back of the wreath, and embellish with felt holly leaves and berries.
For the front porch of her new Rhode Island home, blogger Alison Vinciguerra of the blog Long Distance Loving used a wreath from The Home Depot that was pre-decorated with pinecones, holly leaves, gold feathers and fruit. She wove in white LED twinkle lights into the wreath and garland near a vintage-looking lantern.
This holly is the result of a cross between an English and Chinese holly. Leaves are glossy, and many gardeners use plants as a privacy screen. Flowers are easy to miss, but give rise to eye-catching berries. Plants grow 15 to 20 feet tall and up to 10 feet wide. Hardy in Zones 6 to 9. Botanical name: Ilex x ‘Nellie R. Stevens’
Dress up winter scenes with the deep green leaves and bright red berries of Castle Spire holly (Ilex x meserveae). This holly has a narrow shape (3-4 feet) that works great as part of a foundation planting or hedge. Plants grow 6 to 10 feet tall. Hardy in Zones 5-7.
Japanese beetles tend to avoid hollies, and ‘Afterglow’ winterberry is no exception. This is a deciduous holly—it drops its leaves in fall. No leaves means the berried stems sparkle through winter. Hardy in Zones 3-9. Use as a hedge or in a rain garden.
alt text: Ilex verticillata ‘Afterglow’
Meet a Japanese holly that sparkles in part shade or full sun. The gold-tone leaves won’t burn on this evergreen plant grows 12 to 18 inches tall and wide. Use it in containers, to edge paths or beds or as a colorful addition to rock gardens. Hardy in Zones 5-8. Botanical name: Ilex crenata
Ilex verticillata is a holly that loses its leaves in fall, leaving stems studded with berries. Commonly known as winterberries, ilex berries are available in bright red, orange or yellow; the yellow ones are great for Thanksgiving and fall arrangements, says grower Bill Prescott, of Stargazer Barn. "Winterberries grow all over the U.S.," he says. "Ours are bred for floral use, so they have long stems and nice, lateral branches that are dense with berries."
Strong berry production, glossy evergreen leaves and a compact pyramidal shape make Castle Spire holly a great choice for smaller yards. Plants eventually grow 8-12 feet tall and 3-4 feet wide. Use one as a specimen, or plant several to form a screen. This is also a great choice for a bird-friendly landscape. Hardy in Zones 5-7. Botanical name: Ilex x meserveae ‘Hachfee’
Keep an eye peeled in lawns and planting beds for sapling trees. Often these trees, like this walnut sapling, sprout thanks to the diligent digging of squirrels. It’s especially easy to miss these beneath mature shrubs or roses, until you spot the leaves poking through the plant. The other place that seedling trees pop up are along fencelines, courtesy of birds who have been gobbling fruit, such as mulberry, cherry or holly. Small trees are easy to hand-pull. Grab a spade if they seem firmly anchored in soil. Keep an eye out for seedlings in spring when weeding or mulching. Remove any you see before they have a chance to develop a tap root.