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Kew Gardens in Winter, Holly and Witch Hazel explored

Kew Gardens in Winter is a great time of year to explore the gardens, plants, foliage, and animals in the full spectrum of winter glory.

After saying hello to the Swan, we take a look at the world of Holly, and find out there is more to this than meets the eye in the wintery backdrop of London’s most famous garden.

 

Swan at Kew
Swan at Kew

 

Orange delicate shreds on Jelena variety of Hamamelis
Orange delicate shreds on Jelena variety of Hamamelis

 

See below the Holly information as to how this enchanting winter blooming Witch Hazel “Jelena” derived its name from a real romance story.

 

The Holly Walk Kew Gardens, Winter

Here you will find one of the largest collections in the world of different varieties of Holly. Hundred-year-old Holly exists at Kew,  lasting up to 300 years.  Beautiful shapes and colours, yellow, greens spiked not spiked, two-toned, rounded ovals,  with berries, without berries trailing,  shiny matt. They originally called Holly Walk, Love Lane, that separated Richmond Garden from Kew Gardens. It formed part of a public walkway that enabled people to go from Kew to Richmond. Lying South of Kew Gardens it ends at the towards the direction of the Japanese Pagoda and Cedar Vista area, as well as Treetops Walkway and the Temperate House.

Holly falls under the classification of the Aquifoliaceae family. The Latin name  Ilex aquifolium. It can be Evergreen or deciduous. It can grow into trees, shrubs it can trail or climb known a term known as Liana.

kew Holly
Kew Holly

 

Its name comes from Old English word holegn meaning “To prick”. It is also a name often given to baby girls born at Christmas. Audrey Hepburn’s iconic character in Breakfast At Tiffany’s was Holly Golightly.

Walking Sticks made of Holly hard woods

The wood that comes from holly is a hardwood with a fine grain, that is hard to see. Good firewood much whiter than other woods. Made into walking sticks, furniture, weather & Mathematical instruments, whips, veneering, handles for teapots mimicking Ebony, were often black stained holly wood.  It could produce a dye for fabrics from the leaves.

possibly Silver Lining variation email if you know
possibly Silver Lining variation email if you know

 

There is a Holly Remedy in the Bach Flower range, associated with inner harmony or for the states of mind when there is an absence of Love.

Generations past gave the leaves to animals as food was less available in winter. The tops of Holly trees, bushes are not spikey as the base leaves, which is all part of its inbuilt protection system. Useful as an insecticide because of its bitter tannins.

Red Berries are plenty in the Garden

These are poisonous to humans but a source of food to birds and small woodland animals in winter. The Plant is dioecious, meaning it has separate male and female plants. Two separate plants are needed in order to produce the berries.

red berry holly
red berry holly

Explore the Symbolism

During Christmas, seen in wreaths, decorations, illustrations on Christmas cards, wrapping paper and the finishing touch to the top of a British Christmas pudding. Even Carols such as the Holy and the Ivy mention it. Before the 1800s it was used as a Christmas tree

They used Holly in protecting people’s homes to ward off evil spirits witches, goblins. The Romans around the Winter Solstice celebrate the Saturn god and they thought holly to protect them from harm and lightning.

yellow and green holly
yellow and green holly

Religions Festivals Old and New

Many Christians see holy and its red berries as symbolic of Christ’s Thorny crown and blood during the crucifixion, often called “Christ’s Thorn”.

holly berry spiked
holly berry spiked

 

Pagan, Celtic anglo Saxon seasonal festivals and customs also feature a holly dressed god/Man celebrates the start of Epiphany which is around the 5th/ 6th of January and a celebration of the baptism of Christ and nativity.

The Holly man symbolises good growth for the plants during the new seasons to come after winter.

Green holly ivy man
Green holly ivy man

 

Epiphany around the 12th night when people take their Christmas decorations down.

The twelfth night is the last day of the 12 days of Christmas day one for many is Christmas day the 25th December although some start it from Boxing day. In Ireland,  3 wise men feature in the nativity crib on the 12th night, many churches have their manger nativity area still up around 12th night.

Manger scene with the 3 wise men
Manger scene with the 3 wise men

Possibly Chinese Holly Illex Cornuta

Ilex Cornuta tulip type shape tips in a spade shape
Ilex Cornuta tulip shaped tips spade shape

 

Anyone know what type of Holly this is?

two tones of green holly
two tones of green holly

Two legendary British Diarists liked Holly

Sayes Court Deptford, Home of John Evelyn, diarist, horticulturist and one of the founder members of the Royal Society had a prized large holy hedge. In 1665 Pepys commented that the Holly Hedge as one of the “finest things I ever saw in my life.”  Evelyn’s book Sylva on Tree cultivation created interest and change.

holly kew gardens
holly Kew gardens

 

Here is a list of the view of the holly species we saw at Kew and some photos.

The Latin name that all holly derivatives start with Ilex aquifolium

Ilex X altaclerensis
“Elegantissima”

Elegantissima
Elegantissima

“Ferox Argentia”  Silver Hedgehog Holly

” Silver Queen”

“Silver Lining”

 

Ilex pedunculosa

‘Argentea Pendula’

‘Perry’s Weeping’

“Gold Flash”

“Silver Milkboy”

‘Aurea Regina’ Golden Queen Holly

“Peramidalis”

“Silver Van Tol”

Silver Van Tol
Silver Van Tol

Secluded Mediterranean Garden at Kew

This Garden was born around 2007 to study and exhibit natural plants from the Mediterranean Habitat. Cypress Trees, Tuscan olive trees, Stone Pine trees, Cork Oak tree, Cistus Lavender and many more.

Temple in the Med Kew
Temple in the Med Kew

 

There is a very Romanesque looking building with pillars, known as King William’s Temple which was a gift to Queen Victoria to commemorate William the IV and built 1837. Designed by Sir J Wyatville the architect the IV. Inscriptions on the portico columns, give the dates of major battles the English fought and won, during historic 1760-1815.

 

King William's Temple at Kew
King William’s Temple at Kew

 

plants of the meditteranean Kew
plants of the Meditteranean Kew

 

At the moment the Hamamelis tree, Commonly known as Witch Hazel is in bloom there. Which we feature below.

winter mediterranean garden
winter Mediterranean garden

Witch Hazel Hamamelis shines bright in the winter sky

Blooming yellow witch hazel Kew
Blooming yellow witch hazel Kew

 

Part of Hamamelidaceae family. Deciduous shrubs with yellow, orange-red narrow petal flowers, the branches have no leaves. Ornamental trees, with a citrus type fragrance. The name stems from an old English Wiche Wice meaning “bendable”.

vibrant delicate yellow flowers Hamamelis
vibrant delicate yellow flowers Hamamelis

 

They use North American Hamamelis Virginiana for Astringent liquid used in skin and body preparations and herbalism. The parts used are the bark and its leaves. The properties flavonoids, tannins (hamamelitannin and proanthocyanidin). Thought to be good for anti-inflammatory, antiviral actions, and more recent studies confirming it has anti-radiation properties towards the sun and antioxidant properties. Many ancient and modern cultures have used Witch Hazel skin complaints and other health conditions.

Witch hazel winter flowering Kew
Witch hazel winter flowering Kew

Hamamelis variation  ” japonica is from Japan, whilst type Mollis is Chinese

A Cross of the Mollis and Japonica species. Just before the 1930s, the  Arnold Arboretum in America were growing oriental varieties of Hamamelis, but it wasn’t till around 1945 that they discovered “Intermedia” A Cross of the Mollis and Japonica species.
Kew Gardens Mediterranean Garden Hamamelis trees
Kew Gardens Mediterranean Garden Hamamelis trees
yellow flowering Witch Hazel shrub
yellow flowering Witch Hazel shrub

Hamamelis X Intermedia “Jelena”

 

Jelena intermedia Hamamelis Orange shrub flowering
Jelena intermedia Hamamelis Orange shrub flowering

This variety of Hamamelis has a Royal Horticultural Award

An Arboretum in Belgium Kalmthout is where Jelena cultivar of this species began. Antoine Kort ran the Kalmthout botanical gardens before WW2 and had planted Japonica species var. flavopurpurascens of Hamamelis. The De Belder family, Diamond Merchants, took on the Nursery from 1952 and saved the rare trees and plants that would not have survived. De Belder Brothers expanded the plot to accommodate and protect more horticulture.
Hamamelis Variation Jelena at Kew
Hamamelis Variation Jelena at Kew
A botanical Slovenian student named Jelena Kovacic (Kovačič) came to work there. Rare woody shrubs were becoming an endangered species. That same year,  they set International Dendrology Society up to protect species like this. Jelena Kovacic took cuttings of these Hamamelis trees and suggested propagation from them rather than transplantation. Romance blossomed for the couple and they married. In January 1955 these cuttings had flowered and Robert De Belder named them after his wife Hamamelis x intermedia Jelena. The beautiful shrub entered the Royal Horticultural exhibition in London and given an award. Robert & Jelena de Belder went onto to create one of the best-known Arboreta in the world.

Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Orange Peel’

 

Witch Hazel cultivar Jelena
Witch Hazel cultivar Jelena

Temperate Greenhouse, Kew Gardens

Temperate greenhouse
Temperate greenhouse

 

Jasminum – Jasmine fragrant

This is where you want some great tips from Alan Titchmarsh about this beautifully scented delicate flower.  Part of the Oleaceae botanical family the same as olives. The name is thought to derive from Persian “Yasameen”, “Gift from God”.  The Plant can be an evergreen or where the leaves will fall deciduous.

 

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small delicate white flowers temperate house
small delicate white flowers temperate house

 

Temperate house bell shaped flower
Temperate house bell-shaped flower

Along the footpath Camellia

Yuletide Camellia
Yuletide Camellia

 

pink camellia
pink camellia

 

Kew Gardens

 

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