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Re: Ilex opaca

> From: kmrsy@comcast.net
> Speaking of hollies....Has anyone grown Ilex opaca, american Holly
> of Zone 6? I'm supposed to find one for the display gardens, but
> in Z5, and all my references say 6. anyone?

Kitty, I am south of you; have several in my woods and find seedlings
all the time - I could send you some but they are tiny tots:-)  I.
opaca is native (according to Galle's tome on hollies) from MA to PA
and W. VA, south to Florida and West to Texas, Missouri, Tenn and
Indiana, so, since you are in Indiana, it should grow where you are. 
As with a lot of trees, you would be better off getting one that came
from native stock or had at least been propagated and reared in your
area or north of you rather than south.  

The species is a nice tree but not particularly exciting.  Grows VERY
slowly.  I have them in the garden, too - some naturally and some I
moved as found seedlings years ago.  There are numerous cultivars out
there in the trade tho' not all are readily available.  Seems to me
that wholesale growers are all growing about the same 10 plants - no
matter where they are:-)

Galle says that 'Cardinal' is a female, selected in MA by E. Dilatush
before 1942, so it's been around a while.  Description is:  Leaves
dark olive green, elliptic, keeled, curved, 2-3/4" - 3-1/8" long x
1-3/8"-1-5/8" wide.  5-6 spines on each side, margins reflexed,
slightly wavy, petioles 1/4" long; fruits light red, borne singly,
globose, 5/16" dia.; compact, slow habit of growth; early heavy

He notes that there is also a 'Cardinal Compact' - also female,
selected in 1929 in NJ, introduced by the same person that is more
compact in habit but that both clones lack outstanding features.

There is also a 'Cardinal Hedge' - also female, syn. 'Cardinal
Improved', selected about 1932 at Boyce Thompson Institute;
introduced by the same E. Dilatush in 1948.  He gives a detailed
description of it - has vivid red fruit and is nearly as wide as
tall.....and there's a 'Cardinal Supreme', also female introduced by
the same Dilatush in 1948.  He notes that while the parent of
'Supreme' was attractive the offspring have a stretched appearance.

As you get into this, if you are thinking about getting 'Cardinal',
you might want to make sure which one it is, given the propensity for
confusing names in the nursery trade:-)

If you're buying for a display garden, wonder if you couldn't work
getting things wholesale and, thus, deal with some of the growers
directly, or at least the local wholesale suppliers?  I have been
doing a lot of searching for wholesale suppliers lately - have huge
list of links on the other computer.  It's too late and I'm too tired
to go look right now, but if you're interested, I can do this and
check some availability lists to see who might have what I. opaca
clones in production and where..

And, yes, for I. opaca you do need a male.  

I put a lovely I. opaca in my #1 garden design job last fall - my
installer got it at one of the local wholesalers.  The male clone
wasn't available, so needs to go in this spring.    It was 'Merry
Christmas'; the male I wanted was 'Jersey Knight'.  'Merry Christmas'
was introduced by that same Dilatush (boy was he busy); original
plant from the Catskill mountains in NY...there's also an 'improved'
version of it according to Galle, and I do not know which we actually
got, but it's a lovely tree and it was about 8' tall when installed;
took 4 guys to move that rootball.   Would seem to me that this one
might be fairly readily available in the trade and from northern
blood, which would make it naturally hardier.  

Well, that's all for tonight; running out of steam here:-)

Marge Talt, zone 7 Maryland
Editor:  Gardening in Shade
Shadyside Garden Designs
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