Pleached Holly, Nellie Stevens Holly, – Ilex Aquifolium Nellie Stevens
With its origins in the USA – G.A. van Lennep, St. Michael, MD, USA, 1954 – The Ilex Aquifolium Nellie Stevens is an exceptionally nice hybrid of the popular British Common Holly – Ilex aquifolium (One of Britain’s only Native Evergreens) and the Horned Holly Ilex cornuta. With glossy dark green leaves and dark grey-green bark and branches it makes a particularly good standard tree and it fits seamlessly into native landscapes and gardens, producing a quality feel which is hard to beat. Achieving heights of 6-8 meters, its crown has a pyramidal shape and its tight regular habit make it a popular choice for formal training into pleached trees.
Oval elongated leaves measure 5-8cm long, 3-5cm wide, with 2-3 teeth on either side which ensures the observer is in no doubt it is a Holly. In spring new foliage is produced in abundance, having a soft pliable feel to touch. After a few weeks in warmer conditions it soon hardens up to take on the familiar stiff holly feel. From April to May tiny white clusters of flowers turn out with red fleshy berries.
This particular cultivar produces a mass of berries in normal conditions which make it so popular visually, while providing an important source of food for birds – it’s common to see the Black Bird darting in and out of the canopy in the winter months for this very reason. The tree has some toxic elements so avoid eating the berries.
The tree is considered winter hardy and frost resistant (down to -23C) so ideal for the British climate. Being of Native origins it is quite happy on windswept sites so a popular choice in these exposed locations. The trees do well in all soil conditions including chalk, clay, loamy, sandy and dry but it does not tolerate wet soils – best to install land drains or similar to drain away water if you have a wet site before planting. It does not like to have its far-reaching roots covered by paving or hard landscaping. As a small to medium sized woodland plant it is quite used to growing happily below the canopies of much larger trees. Being extremely tolerant of shady sites makes this a firm favourite in these conditions. While slow growing, if you are looking for a quality upmarket feel for your project there are very few evergreen alternatives capable of producing the same upmarket feel.
Few trees have the ability to work so well in both contemporary and traditional designs. The Nellie Stevens is one of them. Available as Hi pleached screens, solitaire pieces and specimen ornamental trees and suitable for small, medium and large gardens. pleached holly is a popular plant available in pots/containers and in some cases rootball in season.
Planting advice for Pleached trees and Espaliered trees.
An important consideration when planting pleached or espalier trees in a straight line is the slope of the ground. Pleached or Espalier trees look their best when they are planted on flat or gently sloping ground. Doing so will line up the frames and stems and creating effect of one continuous line when viewed at all angles. Even on a gradual slope this effect can be achieved. However, with a slope of more than 10-12 degrees, it may be necessary to step the trees/frames when planting (the frames on freshly pleached trees can be manipulated to account for a sharper slope of perhaps 15 degree if necessary).
To create a good visual effect, it is important to line up the stems and frames (unless you are planting them in a circle or semi-circle). To start off the planting holes should measure roughly double the width of the rootball or pot….
How are Pleached Trees made?
Pleached trees or screen trees start life as a seedling or cutting, much like any other tree, being repotted or replanted a number of times in their formative years. They grow happily on the nursery with hundreds or even thousands of other trees. When the time is right, highly skilled nurserymen and woman go out into the field amongst the trees with tags in hand and pick the very best trees for pleaching. The criteria for choosing the best trees for training includes, selecting those with the straightest stems, healthy root stock and appropriately spreading and uninform crowns. Once tagged and lifted the trees are loaded onto trailers and sent to potting sheds for training. Read our full guide to pleaching trees here
Delivery varies depending on:
- How many trees you require
- If you want us to plant them
- Accessibility of the site
- If any need sourcing
- The seasonal ability to lift or plant specific species.
Please contact us to discuss your individual requirements.