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."
A charming stepping stone path leads from the front lawn around to the back of the house. The garden includes purple salvia, allium and geranium 'Rozanne'; white peony, viburnum, azalea, rhododendron 'multimaculatum' and Cornus Kousa; and yellow Chamaecyparis, and Alchemilla. For year-round interest, there are evergreen Ilex Glabra and ornamental grasses.
The landscape design for this Tudor home's front garden used a layered planting plan of evergreen and deciduous shrubs, perennials and bulbs. Plants include purple Salvia, Allium and Geranium 'Rozanne'; white peony, Viburnum, Azalea, Rhododendron 'multimaculatum' and Cornus Kousa; and yellow Chamaecyparis and Alchemilla. Evergreen Ilex glabra and ornamental grasses are attractive in multiple seasons.
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’
Try out Gem Box for a boxwood replacement. A dwarf size coupled with dainty green leaves makes Gem Box sparkle. It looks great in containers or spaced to form an evergreen hedge. Plants grow 2 to 3 feet tall and wide. Hardy in Zones 5-9. Botanical name: Ilex glabra
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
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’
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’
In South America, yerbe mate is the drink of choice, more popular than coffee. It’s made from the leaves of a plant by the same name: yerbe mate (Ilex paraguariensis). The drink, made with dried leaves, tastes refreshing hot or cold with a flavor similar to green tea. Packed with antioxidants and caffeine, yerbe mate is an easy growing beauty. Start picking leaves once plants are established—anywhere from 2 to 8 feet tall. Feed plants regularly through spring and summer.