Plants: Ilex x meserveae 'Casanova' - blue holly, Meserve holly

Posted by 08.04. 2008 08:24:57 (17898 readers)

Ilex x meserveae 'Casanova' - blue holly, Meserve holly

We are always happy to hear about any success as far as increasing plants hardiness. And when it happens and a new plant variety is hardy and at the same time beautiful we are lost for words. Casanova is the one that left us speechless. It is a brand new variety that was only in 2006 introduced at the international nurseries fair in Essen, Germany.

Glossy leaves of this jewel have a dark green background with rather irregular varigation of creamy yellow to almost white towards the margins. Some leaves are creamy yellow or white completely. Every leaf is different, same as every plant – you will not find two identical plants. This makes each one look like a painter’s original. Leaves are gently serrated, not spiny, medium sized (approx. 4x3 cm). New branches are burgundy red same as tiny flower buds. And since Casanova was a bloke (luckily this is not a forum for commenting on his alleged love life), this plant is a male variety, too, very effective as a pollinator for most of the female hollies that need a pollen-partner for producing coloured berries.

Meserveae hollies are called blue hollies thanks to the shade of the species leaves that are dark green with bluish tint. And the name meserveae was chosen for its cultivator, Kathleen Meserve, who, literally on her windowsill, made a cross of ilex rugosa and ilex aquifolium, in 1950´s to achieve excellent cold hardiness on a fabulously foliaged evergreen plant. She died in 1999 at the age of 93 but left behind an impressive line of these evergreen superbly hardy varieties.

Blue hollies need almost no maintenance if you provide them with slightly acidic soil at the beginning and enough moisture for the first couple of years to enable establishing extensive root system. They are beautiful and trouble-free dense shrubs with no defoliated twigs even without pruning. Young plants grow moderately fast until they reach about 1.5m when they slow down and begin forming a dense shrub.

Another huge advantage is its above mentioned hardiness. It can stand very low temperatures without any damage: it is supposed to survive -30°C and thrive in USDA zone 5, perhaps 4 with protection. This fact makes Casanova so far the hardiest evergreen plant in our climate with varigated foliage.
Milan Havlis, Specializované zahradnictví
Chlumec 23, 382 32 Velešín, Czech republic
www.havlis.cz

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