Winter’s Brightest Hollies — A Grumpy Sneak Peek

January 18, 2010 | By | Comments (1)

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Faithful and uber-intelligent readers, Grumpy has the ultimate New Year’s present for you. Not only do you get a sneak peek into an unquestionably marvelous story he’s preparing for December 2010, but you also get a bonus reason for living.

Now you’d expect to pay $1,000,000 bucks for an incredible offer like this in retail blogs. But no! The all-beneficent, compassionate, and sensitive Grump is giving this to you absolutely free, just for your own enlightenment and gratification!

Pictured above is the Lexington, Kentucky home of garden designer Jon Carloftis, with whom photographer Ralphie Anderson and I were working on a story last week about growing and decorating with deciduous hollies — you know, the ones that drop their leaves in winter. Jon, who designs gardens for many of Manhattan’s wealthiest socialites, decided to step up in class and collaborate with the Grump. It was Rogers and Hammerstein all over again.

When I called him last December to see if he could help me out, Jon had just finished decorating the Blair House in Washington, DC for Christmas using lots of winterberry (Ilex verticillata), which along with possumhaw (I. decidua) are the two kinds of deciduous holly people can cut from the garden or order from the florist. Jon told me that when he was first called about the Which Blair project, he turned it down, because he didn’t know what the Blair House was. Then someone said, “That’s the residence across the street from the White House where visiting foreign heads-of-state stay.”

Jon had a change of heart.

For Southern Living, we wanted Jon to give our readers some easy ideas for Christmas decorating using deciduous hollies. Here’s a mantel Jon did in about 20 minutes using ‘Winter Red’ winterberry, Japanese yew, evergreen holly, white amaryllis, and pine cones.


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Next, we asked him to design a centerpiece for the dining table using springs of deciduous holly as stakes to hold up flowers of paperwhites. Jon filled in around the edges with snippets of white baby’s breath (Gypsophila paniculata).

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The cool thing about baby’s breath, he says, is that the flowers dry perfectly and together with the holly stay looking great for a long time.


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“I am master of my domain,” admits Jon during a particularly reflective moment.


There’s Gold in That Thar Holly

Not all deciduous hollies have red berries. Some have yellow or orange ones. Here’s a really nifty, simple arrangement form Jon’s house using ‘Winter Gold’ winterberry (it’s really more orange than gold) combined with green spider mums. Even the Grump can do this.

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Finally, we did a shot of Jon’s front entrance using two urns filled with winterberry.

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Pretty spectacular. wouldn’t you say?

And Now — An Incredible, One-Time Offer Only for You!

Want to know how to grow deciduous hollies, where to buy them, and how to tell apart winterberry from possumhaw, so you’ll sound smarter than The Girls Next Door (not much of an accomplishment, really)? Then check back here later this week for another fabulous offer!


  1. Jean

    Love the entrance to the house!
    Who would have thought of using birch trees in that way? Very striking with the red holly in the urns. Wish my house entrance looked like that and well maybe my house too!

    January 20, 2010 at 11:40 am

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