Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Nellie Stevens Holly

In the two years since we've owned our house, our landscaping work has pretty much involved two dominant tasks: rip out and plant grass seed.  Remember this before and after of the side yard?

May 2010

June 2010
(in progress)

May 2011

And, now that we have a blank slate to work with, we're ready to create a landscape that involves more than just grass.  First on the priority list is a hedge row.  While we truly adore our neighbors nextdoor, we both need a little privacy.  So, we would like to plant a modest wall of planted shrubs along the fence line.  Nothing crazy, but something dense and manicured, that will give us a nice green border, and them some charming privacy.  It also had to be evergreen-- we don't want the hedges shedding their leaves every winter.  Once the hedge is grown and manicured, we'd keep it about 8 to 10 feet tall.

When we started researching hedges, we immediately thought of boxwood.

Martha Stewart's endless boxwood driveway

perfectly manicured mature boxwood hedges

However, we quickly realized that this will NEVER be a feasible option for us.  Boxwood grow only a couple of inches per year(!!!) and we hoped for a hedge wall that reached 8 feet someday soon.  Also, the cost of one 4' boxwood runs in the hundreds of dollars.  Since we need about thirty plants, the cost would have been astronomical.  So, we quickly crossed it off the list. 

From there, we went the other direction and looked into basic, cheap, fast-growing, dense shrubs.  This involved researching the varieties of Arbortivae and Leyland cypress.  Both are great trees for a hedge wall.  But, we're not in love with the foliage (it's a lovely evergreen, but can get mangled and messy if not properly cared for).   Also, they need a lot of maintenance if you want a create a manicured wall.  These trees have the ability to grow up to 50 feet(!!!), so we would need to keep them in check.  This would involve heavy pruning twice a year, and Dave on a ladder with a hedge trimmer.  :)

Leyland Cypress hedge wall, perfectly manicured.

Just before we were ready to commit to the Leyland Cypress, we did a bit more research and came across the Nellie Stevens Holly.  Let the heavens rejoice.  This seems like the perfect plant for us.  This evergreen hybrid grows about 2 feet per year, it's perfect for privacy screens, and it thrives on neglect.  Also, from an aesthetics perpective, it produces the most beautiful dark green, tiny waxy leaves (I love!!) and during Christmastime, we'll have bright red berries.  Yes, yes, and yes, please.  Also, it's cheap.  Sign us up.

Nellie Stevens Holly

Nellie Stevens Holly

holly hedge

holly hedge

We'll need to plant these babies in April.  Until then, I would love to hear from some of you.  Do you have experience with any of these plants?  Have you ever planted something that ended up growing differently than you expected?  Please share!


No Comments Yet, Leave Yours!

{plum} said...

like you, I adore the boxwood.

clean, crisp, and perfectly boxy. but, alas, I too realized they were an unlikely choice for screening. our substitute? ms. nellie stevens herself.

hearty, with gorgeous gleaming leaves and cheery little 'cherries', it has provided instant privacy and reached to the sky adding a height every year. I love them and they seem to love the Pennsylvania weather.

may you enjoy yours as I have mine.

best - d.

post script: don't forget, shoulders back.

MaryBeth said...

Don't forget these are prickly. I have 2 on either side of my front door and they have never "thickened up".
I would love boxwood but like you I wanted almost instant privacy so I planted cherry laurel. You would be amazed at my front hedge. I could email you a picture and I think I live very close to your area.

Amanda said...

I am the resident gardener for my family. My in-laws had a holly hedge in the front. I ended up tearing it out because it would shed leaves, and they were brutal on little feet. The kids always had to wear shoes in the yard (and even still, sometimes they would get them in the legs or arms). I would exercise caution in planting a holly if you or your neighbors have kids. Also, I am still battling it coming back (it has been 5 years) even though I tore out the roots. Good luck!

Kacey @ www.shesnomartha.com said...

I love neglect!

I kill Arbivitae and boxwood -- it's a gift I have. I even bring them indoors in pots during our Ohio winters. The just die a slower death.

I may need to check this out!

Sharon@house58blog.com said...

Boxwoods are so pretty and so durable! They also stay green all year round, which is why I love to use them in every part of the yard--front and back. I also love arborvitae for some height. Good luck!

Lindsey said...

I loved this post! We have the same issues: maintaining privacy from neighbors. We choose a waxleaf privet if I remember correctly and italian cypresses all in a row- very Italian feeling. And both are evergreens and look great year round. Your choice looks great too. I am also a HUGE fan of boxwoods and have used them elsewhere in my yard, but I cringe at the price of them. I guess it's one of those plants that you can only use in moderation. I can only imagine the cost of Martha's driveway shrubs.

Kate Gwinn said...

Oh wow. I have so much to say on the subject of landscaping and privacy hedging. I may need to send you an email!

Before planting, I'd suggest reading a new book out by a fabulous woman named Marty Wingate. It's called Landscaping for Privacy and she just presented at the NW Flower and Garden Show. I came away so inspired! She also does tours (this summer it is through France... visiting Monet's gardens. Awesome, right?) Anyway, I'll email you more info. I HIGHLY recommend checking out her book. She really challenged me to think outside the typical hedge and also explore different layers of "screening" within the yard.

Also, we can talk holly bushes. They are gorgeous, but maybe not the best choice with kids (if they are anywhere on the horizon.) They can drop leaves (injuring little toes) and I just pulled out two invasive suckers. However, you will love them around the holidays and everyone will be jealous of all your fresh clippings brought inside.

Miss Kitty said...

When we bought our house seven years ago, I ripped out all of the "meatball" shrubbery in the front of the house but left the holly bushes/trees on the end corners of the house as anchors. I had to prune them back to almost bare branches they had gotten so overgrown but they have filled back in wonderfully. I live in Alabama and have to water almost every other thing during the summers in the yard except these (I think) Nellie Stevens Holly...they are very tough.

Deanna (Silly Goose Farm) said...

I agree with Kate - Be careful with little kids (and pets) because Holly can be poisonous! Otherwise, it's very beautiful and is good for making wreaths.

Amanda said...

At the advice of our landscapers, we planted Nellie Stevens Hollies for teh very reason as you - privacy between our house and teh home next door. They have gorwn well and require very little care - although they don't remain in the perfect pointed shape without trimming. They do provide beautiful berries and are very hardy and drought resistent. They do not drop a lot of leaves and send off suckers so they are not invasive. The do flower and attarct bees in the spring, which we consider to be a good thing, but might be bad if someone had bee sting allergies.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know a evergreen shrub that lives thru the Colorado winter? I need a privacy wall along the front walk. Privet makes a great wall, but not sure about our winters.

Unknown said...

I only have hedges out of Forsythia and Nandina, both flowering...
Can't wait to see what you do with your beautiful yard!

Patricia Villamil said...

what a fabulous makeover, it looks stunning!

Anonymous said...

Could use help. A friend is looking to get rid of 3 of their Nellie Stevens which are about 8' tall. He offered to give them to me if I dig them up. I do NOT want to man handle an 8' ft shrub/tree of any kind but love these and don't have any at my house.
My question is 1 can I chop it down to 3-4 ft so it is more manageable and can I dig up a smaller root ball again to handle it easier but yet have them survive and grow back healthy?

Anonymous said...

Here's a fabulous site http://www.renegadegardener.com/content/dontdothat2002.htm that you may want to read thoroughly regarding encircling trees and edgings. You'll then be removing that little circle around your gorgeous tree allowing it to gracefully flow into the landscape as well as removing that wood edge by the sidewalk, thus gently sloping naturally instead...all more aesthetic...and as you will read, the mound and circle removed will save your gorgeous tree in time. ;o)

Anonymous said...

I planted 6 nellie stevens hollies last september. Even though we had a rough winter in NJ they were doing great. Last week i noticed they look like they have a film on the leaves, it is not yellow but not the vibrant green they have had. Not sure if it is windburn, i checked the soil and the soil is moist. They are a light green now but not yellow or brown. Can anyone help they are gorgeous and i do not want to lose them!

Shmooshka said...

I too am looking for privacy and the Nellie Stevens holly was suggested. I have a lab/pointer mix and she does go and run in my backyard so... especially with the berries the holly would be a no?

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...