One of our favourite festive, decorative plants is also a favourite with wildlife in the garden.

 Blue-tit on Holly: Richard Bowler (rspb-images.com)

Holly is beneficial to bees, caterpillars, moths as well as providing a great nesting environment for garden birds. It’s red berries are food for a variety of birds including blackbirds, mistle thrushes fieldfares as well as garden mice. The dried leaf litter on the ground can provide shelter for hibernating mammals and hedgehogs too.

It takes a long time for the thick waxy leaves to decompose, you may have seen them as thin papery, skeletal brown leaves on the ground. They can be composted but it’s more efficient to shred them so they decompose more quickly.

Holly is what's known as a diocecious plant –meaning it has separate male and female plants. Only female plants produce berries and they will need a male plant in the vicinity to pollinate them. If you want to plant a new fruiting, female holly and there isn't a male in a neighbour's garden, it’s recommended to plant a male holly bush also within approximately 50 feet /15 meters of the female for cross pollination. One male plant can pollinate several female plants.

There are many types to grow; Gardeners world recommend their top ten here. Although Holly is really a tree, it can also be kept compact and shaped as a bush or grown as a hedge. ... and once you've got it in the garden, you've got free, natural Christmas decoration for the home for years to come!

Merry Christmas from us all at Flatford Wildlife Garden.


The Flatford Wildlife Garden is now closed for the rest of the winter season 2020 /2021. Details of re-opening in 2021 will be posted on this blog and the Flatford Wildlife Garden We­­­bsite.

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