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Don looked at holly, a native of Europe, north Africa and western Asia. In the Northern Hemisphere holly is associated with Christmas time, because it produces bright red berries around December. In the Southern Hemisphere the berries are produced between May and August. So if Australians want holly for Christmas they have to travel to Europe, use plastic holly, or celebrate ‘Christmas in July’.

English holly (Ilex aquifolium)
This large, evergreen shrub grows to around 10m (30′) tall. The glossy, dark green leaves have spiny edges, although older plants bear leaves without spines. The perfumed flowers are yellowish-white and appear from late spring to early summer. The fruit, which is produced in mid-winter, is a glossy, red berry. Hollies are dioecious – both a male and female plant is needed to produce fruit. Holly grows best from Sydney to Perth and areas south.

There are many beautiful cultivars of English holly. They feature variegated cream, silver or gold leaves; conical, pyramidal or pendulous growth habits; light green, red or purple branchlets; and red, crimson or yellow fruit. Hollies make good hedges, privacy screens and garden specimens. However, before you plant holly check its weed status in your area. English holly is an environmental weed in Victoria, South Australia, NSW, Tasmania and ACT.