Holly Walk's berries add festive feel

Take a stroll down Kew's Holly Walk to see a multitude of red, black and white berries.

21 Dec 2010

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Holly (Ilex aquifolium)

Holly, Ilex aquifolium (Image: RBG Kew)

Kew's historic Holly Walk has the largest collection of mature hollies in Europe with over 56 species and hybrids. Originally laid out in 1874, much of the collection is over 130 years old.

Most of the Holly Walk trees are cultivars of common holly (Ilex aquifolium) and smooth-leaved holly (Ilex x altaclerensis), providing a unique opportunity to see a vast array of variation in leaf shape, colour and growth habit.

Ilex aquifolium "Argentia Marginata Pendula" has branches that arch down and are covered with white variegated leaves, making the plant look like a cascade of water, and Ilex aquifolium "Silver Queen" has a pink tinge to the new foliage. Other plants have smooth, oval, dark, glossy leaves, such as Ilex x altaclerensis "Platyphilla". There are also other hollies which differ from those usually sold in garden centres, such as Ilex aquifolium "Crassifolia", which has small, thick, light green leaves that are serrated at the edges, and the Himalayan holly (Ilex dipyrena), which has long, thin, light green spineless leaves.

Holly Walk is situated towards the south end of the Gardens and runs for over a kilometre behind the Evolution House, ending at Cedar Vista. It traces the path of an historic thoroughfare called Love Lane that once linked Kew to Richmond.

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