We went to Highfield Hollies nursery in Liss arranged for us by Nick who, not only drove a car-full of us there but, guided us around. As he said – “It is a fascinating place and utterly unique both in the UK and probably the world! Also a chance to see rare varieties of holly. So I think it should be a fun afternoon.” – It was.
We met at the Village Hall and went in 3 cars – see picture (right) –
Nine of us went and, although it did rain on us a bit, was thoroughly enjoyable. We met Louise Bendall, the owner and founder of Highfield Hollies and she was a very nice helpful lady. She did an introduction and a brief history of the holly nursery. She explained how she had come from Kenya with her husband when their farm became financially so difficult to run and they looked for a place with plenty of land. Initially they had cattle, sheep and pigs until all the new difficult regulations came in and it became non-viable. They sold all their livestock except for some sheep and chickens and then looked for something to grow. They chose big hollies as no nurseries seemed to stock them in this country. Louise told us how she used to export hundreds of hollies to the USA and sell thousands to famous gardens all over the UK. When the recession came four years ago her USA business dried up and now she has stopped propagating for UK nurseries and her old giant polytunnel is now going to be a hornbeam arbour.
We then had an hour-long tour with Nick looking at all the different varieties of holly. He really is an enthusiast, as is his wife Sheila, and it rubbed off on us too.
Afterwards we then adjourned for tea and cake in Louise’s conservatory. Our donations of £3 went to Alton Abbey and she told us that she is also doing a fundraising lecture on American hollies at Alton Abbey in the afternoon of Saturday 7 December. More details in the diary on the BGs club page. Following are some of the copious photos of some of the glorious hollies – unfortunately we were a little early for the berries to be ripe.
Below are some photo galleries of some of the hollies we saw – hope you don’t get bored with looking at them – click on the first photo in each gallery and right arrow to run through them – to get out of the gallery at the end just click on ESCape
Keep an eye on our website – I am going to try and keep with the seasons and update the foliage or flowers regularly
Below are a few upright hollies that the photo gallery did not like – they are all so different
Click here to return BGs club page