American Holly – Ilex opaca


General:  Upright, evergreen shrub, that is usually pyramidal in shape reaching heights of up to 30′ in the landscape.

LeavesThick, leathery, deep green leaves (2-4″ long) that have spines on the margins of the leaf.

Flowers:  Pale green to white flowers appear in May-June in clusters.

Fruit:  Red or orange berries that will persist into the winter. A food source for birds and wildlife.

Attributes:  A beautiful, stately shrub in the winter months when loaded with red berries.  Use as a solitary accent tree or plant along a border with other mixed evergreens to enhance the beauty of the landscape and provide a source of winter food for wildlife.


Hardiness:  Zones 5- 9

Growing Conditions: Prefers a moist, acidic soils in a sunny to partially shady location. Protect from heavy drying winds.

Maintenance:  Very little pruning necessary unless you are looking to keep it on the smaller side. For the most part, disease and insect free.

Transplanting: We have moved some large specimines in early spring with success. Make sure adaquate moisture is provided during establishment of the plant. 

Our Experience

Experience at Great Hill
We have numerous hollies that have done very well here. Some of our trees are 25-30′ tall. We have seen some die back in cold windy locations, but the dry leaves fall off and new growth will emerge. Deer can cause heavy damage especially during cold harsh winters. We fence off our hollies during the winter to protect them from browsing deer.

Historical Winter Data
Winter 2016-17: 
No issues

Winter 2017-18: A couple shrubs had leads that were bent over and broken under heavy wet snow. Fortunately, we were able to splint the leads for the time being to see if they hold on, otherwise we will prune off the broken branches next spring.

Inkberry – Ilex glabra


General:  A suckering, upright/rounded and broadleaved evergreen shrub growing 5 to 8 feet tall and wide enough to form colonies when left to its own devices.

Leaves: Glossy dark green leaves are flat, smooth, spineless and ovate/elliptic growing 1.5″ long.

Flowers:  Inconspicuous greenish white cymes in spring.

Fruit: Jet black, pea sized, berry like drupes (inkberry) in female plants. Popular fall berry for many birds.

Attributes:  Inkberry is a shrub great for massing/hedging, foundations, shrub borders, wet areas, naturalized settings or woodland gardens


Hardiness:  Zones 4-9

Growing Conditions: Prefers medium to wet acid soils in full sun to part shade

MaintenanceSusceptible to fungal leaf spots. Spider mites can appear if stressed.

Transplanting: Easily transplanted in the spring.


Our Experience

Experience at Great Hill:

The multi-seasonal benefits of inkberry serve us in several garden areas on Great Hill. We use it both as an addition to a shrub border, as a screening plant and as an accent shrub. It fills a niche where we need evergreen color, adds an interesting dynamic with its compact habit and is ornamental in its berry set as well as a source of food for the local bird population. Its a great native to add to the landscape.

Longstalk Holly – Ilex pedunculosa


General:  A large irregular evergreen shrub (or small tree) with a dense habit growing to 20′ with a similar spread.

Leaves: Alternate, simple, dark green leaves are narrow and pear shaped. 1 to 3″ long.

Flowers:  Inconspicuous greenish-white May to June,

Fruit:  Bright red 1/4″ rounded berry like drupes appearing in the fall.

Attributes:  Handsome and hardy evergreen holly used as a specimen as well as an informal hedge or screen.


Hardiness:  Zones 5-7

Growing Conditions: Prefers average to medium well drained soils in full sun to part shade.

MaintenanceNo serious insect or disease issues.

Transplanting: Easily transplanted in the spring.


Our Experience

Experience at Great Hill:

We feature ilex pedunculosa against the main guest house on Great Hill. It has been pruned and trained an an espalier allowing it to fill a tight corner with grace and style.