At an HSA Board of Trustees meeting in 2002, someone suggested that the Holly Society begin recommending a "holly of the year." It would be an ideal way to bring superlative hollies to the attention of the public and to introduce gardeners and nurserymen to the existance of the Holly Society of America. In naming the program, the board honored the late Gene Eisenbiess, a holly expert from the National Arboretum who had done so much over the years to help the Society.
The committee in charge of selecting the Gene Eisenbeiss Holly of the Year try to pick out hollies that are available at a wide range of nurseries, would be easy to grow, and would be hardy in a number of USDA Hardiness Zones.
2003 Gene Eisenbeiss Holly of the Year
Ilex opaca 'Satyr Hill'
The holly chosen for the 2003 Holly of the
Year is Ilex
opaca 'Satyr Hill'. This fine American holly
was found as a volunteer seedling
and developed at McLean
Nurseries in Towson, Maryland by Stewart
McLean. 'Satyr Hill' was
registered by the Holly Society in 1970,
registration number 3-70, and
was named for the road on which
the nursery is located.
Hill' has large, dark olive green
leaves that are about 2 3/8 inches
(6.0 cm) long and 2 inches (5.1
cm) wide. They are glossy, broadly
oval, and nearly flat with 5 or
6 spines on each side. The fruit
is bright red and about 3/8 inch
(0.95 cm) in diameter. Berries
are borne singly and are nicely
spaced. Full color is reached in
late October in USDA
Hardiness Zone 6. Berry retention is excellent,
lasting all winter and into the
spring when the robins eat them.
This holly’s beautiful berries and
foliage make it highly suitable for wreaths and
other cut holly uses, where it has proven to hold
up extremely well.
Hill' is a vigorous grower with a compact,
upright habit. The original registrant
was about 9 feet (2.7 m) tall and
wide at ten years in USDA Hardiness
Zone 7. The plant should be hardy to Zone
beautiful holly, 'Satyr Hill' makes
a wonderful landscape plant suitable
for use as a striking specimen or grouped
with other material at the back of
a mixed border or in the center of
an island bed. It also looks well as
an under story plant in naturalistic
or woodland settings. As with other
American hollies, it is suitable for use in hedges
or screening plantings.
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