When they are both fully grown, holly and ivy make impressive winter evergreens with all the traditional holiday associations. Here are 10 of plantsman Graham Rice's favourite AGM-winning varieties
Ilex aquifolium 'Handsworth New Silver'
Rich purple young growth turns into long, brightly variegated leaves with a little central mottling and a broad margin of pale cream or white. One of the more prolific varieties of holly, with its crop of bright red berries which make a striking contrast with the foliage, 'Handsworth New Silver' eventually makes a bold and impressive specimen.
Truly dramatic, the large drooping leaves of this variegated Persian ivy hang down distinctively from the branches. The foliage is pale green in colour and broadly edged in deep creamy yellow. It works well both as a covering for a wall or as ground cover in shade or sun. Probably the most colourful of all evergreen climbers.
Also known, incorrectly, as ‘Paddy’s Pride’, this is softer in its colouring than 'Dentata Variegata' and with smaller, 10-12.5cm (4-5in), foliage. Each leaf rolls back a little at the sides, highlighting the irregular bright yellow central splash, which fades with age, surrounded by a pale green outer zone. Good on walls or fences, or as ground cover.
A multi-season holly, the new young shoots are distinctively tinted pinkish-red. The broad foliage is spiny, but not excessively so, with a broad creamy white margin surrounding the olive green centre then in winter, clusters of glossy, bright red berries line the branches. Vigorous, but one of the best for trimming as a hedge or topiary.
One of the most popular of all ivies, ‘Glacier’ is widely used both indoors as a house plant and outside. This is a superb ground cover ivy, even in dry and shady situations, and is also good on dark walls. Its silvery-grey mottling and slender cream leaf edges bring new brightness to shady areas.
This dependable variegated holly features large, spiny, rather wavy foliage held on purple stems, each leaf is dark olive green with a broad contrasting bright yellow margin and light yellow mottling. The slightly orange-tinted red berries make an attractive combination with the foliage, and are carried on large, rather broad growing plants.
A distinctive, brightly coloured ivy; the main feature of 'Parsley Crested' is the tightly-waved leaf margins. The surface of the leaf may also be puckered or waved and the result is an attractive and intriguing plant which produces long 'trails' so is ideal for cutting for arrangements or for planting in baskets.
Despite its name, ‘Golden King’ is a female holly with a crowded crop of slightly brownish-red berries set amongst colourful leaves. Purple stems carry almost spine-free foliage with wide bright yellow margins making 'Golden King' one of the most colourful of all garden shrubs. Vigorous, but easily clipped to a hedge if required.
With its habit of producing long trailing stems, this is an excellent ivy for cutting for floral arrangements and has rather unusual foliage. Glossy, boldly-lobed, bright green leaves are accented with pale veins and feature crimped, almost rippled, edges. ‘Ivalace’ makes a good 'standard' and is ideal cascading over balustrades or as ground cover.
One of the brightest of all hollies, the large and almost spine-free foliage is vividly splashed with bright yellow and pale green across the centre of each leaf. The berries are brownish red and carried in generous clusters along the branches. Rather upright in growth, branches with all-green foliage may sometimes appear but these are easily cut out.