There are many fine cultivars of the Ilex crenata family but for Holly of the Year, 2015 is a nearly perfect Ilex crenata ‘Helleri’.
‘Helleri’ is a female plant with small dark green leaves and black berries. As with most crenata plants the black fruit does not show well against the green foliage.
The best reason for using ‘Helleri’ is its tight, slow growth. The mature growth if not pruned is about 3 feet tall and 5 to 6 feet wide. Winter stems are reddish but not often seen as the plant is very dense.
Ilex crenata ‘Helleri’ was selected by J. Heller manager of the Newport Nursery in 1934 and he introduced it in the late 30s.
Many of the crenata cultivars sold in nurseries are nice full plants but are better for hedges than foundation planting. ‘Helleri’ will not cover the windows of the home even without printing. They can be pruned or sheared But will seldom really need cutting.
‘Helleri’ will grow in zone 6 and maybe colder in a sheltered location.
Just about all nurseries in the area where they are hardy carry this fine holly.
Ilex crenata ‘Helleri’
Photos: Bill Cannon