Ilex, a name of unknown origin. In England, innumerable varieties have been raised from Ilex aquifolium, a low tree, or shrub, which vary in the margin and size, or in the variegation of the leaves. Being evergreens, they are highly esteemed for the shrubbery, for small groups, or for lawns, and make a gay appearance at all seasons of the year. The silver and gold-edged varieties are very beautiful. The common green prickly-leaved is used for hedges; the only objection to it is its very slow growth.
Alas ! were it not for our changeable climate, we, too, might have this desirable family of plants in our shrubberies and borders. They do not succeed well in the New England States; probably they may thrive in sheltered places, where not much exposed to the sun. They are worthy of many trials.
Ilex opaca. - The American Holly. - This species is found plentifully in some parts of Massachusetts. Mr. Emerson says of it: - "The American Holly is a handsome, low tree, with nearly horizontal branches, and thorny, evergreen leaves. The berries are scarlet, and remain on the tree into the winter.
It flowers in June. It has considerable beauty, and is particularly valuable for retaining its bright green leaves through the year, and for its scarlet berries. The leaves are seldom touched by an insect. On these accounts it deserves cultivation as an ornamental tree. It has great resemblance to the European Holly, which makes the most durable hedge of any plant whatever, and one which is kept in repair, when once established, at the least expense. The objection to it is the slowness of its growth. Our tree is commonly found on a rather dry, sandy, or rocky soil, but will grow on almost any. The European is found to do best on a rich, sandy loam, in an open forest of oak. It is propagated by seeds, or plants taken from the woods. The seeds do not germinate for more than a year after sowing. They are, therefore, kept in moist earth for a year after gathering, after which they are sown at the depth of a quarter of an inch in firm soil. The surface should be protected from heat and drought by a covering of half-rotten leaves, or litter. When transplanted, they should be protected for a while from the heat of the sun. The best time for transplanting is early in the spring, before the plant has begun to shoot."
The same may be said of the seeds of the Thorn, and many others, as of the Holly. They will not vegetate till the second spring after maturing, and are prepared by exposing them to the action of the frost, by slightly covering with earth, thus remaining till they are to be sown in beds, or drills.