In 2002, at a Holly Society of America board meeting, someone suggested selecting a “Holly of the Year” as a way of introducing stand-out Holly varieties to the public, while introducing the Holly Society to growers and nursery owners. To be named “Holly of the Year”, a Holly would need to be available at a wide range of nurseries, easy to grow, and hardy in a number of USDA hardiness zones.

A year later, the “Holly of the Year” honor was given to the Ilex opaca ‘Satyr Hill’ (commonly known as the ‘Satyr Hill’ Holly). According to the Holly Society, the very first Holly of this type was discovered as a volunteer seedling and was developed by Stewart McLean at McLean Nurseries near Baltimore, Maryland. (Interestingly, the ‘Satyr Hill’ Holly received its name from the road on which the nursery is located!)

This beautiful Holly provides year-round interest with glossy, dark-olive evergreen leaves, tiny white flowers in the spring, and large, bright red berries which remain on the plant all winter long–until Robins eat them in the spring. (In its favor, this Holly is attractive to songbirds but not to deer.) The ‘Satyr Hill’ is a wonderful landscape plant and can be used as a striking specimen or grouped with other plants at the back of a mixed border. It is a vigorous grower with a compact, upright habit. It is hardy in zones 5 through 9, does well in full or partial sun, and can tolerate average soil as long as there is good drainage.

In addition to its value as a garden plant, the brilliant red berries, glossy green foliage, and longevity of the ‘Satyr Hill’ Holly make it an attractive choice for use in wreaths and other cut holiday arrangements. (In fact, I often use ‘Satyr Hill’ Holly clippings for our family’s Advent wreath.) For its many delightful qualities, we heartily recommend the ‘Satyr Hill’ Holly variety for your landscape.–Contributed by Betty HanselmanGardener’s wife (& evergreen ‘clip artist’)2