Ilex meserveae 'Blue Maid'
Blue Maid® is a female variety of blue holly. It produces abundance of tiny, white flowers in spring that are followed by attractive berries in autumn. They are bright red and glossy, and remain on the plant until the birds find them in winter. Once they do they will eat them all. In order to produce fruit Blue Maid® needs a male pollinator, preferably from blue holly range such as Blue Prince®, Little Gloss, Casanova®, Heckenstar, Heckenpracht, or Little Rascal®. Leaves are are spineless and nice to touch, very glossy, with a distinct contrast between light green underside and deep green front, often almost blue-green. Hence the name “blue hollies”. They need almost no maintenance if you provide slightly acid, fertile soil at the beginning and keep it evenly moist for the first couple of years to enable establishing extensive root system. All blue hollies are beautiful and dense shrubs with no defoliated twigs even without pruning if grown in quality soil. Young plants grow moderately fast until they reach about 1.5m when they slow down and begin forming a dense shrub. This feature is employed when using this holly into a hedge. There it forms an excellent, all-year-round lustrous green screen. Yet, I believe that this plant looks best as a specimen or mixed with plants of a different shape, or flowering plants for which it provides a perfect background. Blue hollies come from the USA and were bred by Kathleen Meserve, who made a cross of ilex rugosa and ilex aquifolium in 1950’s to achieve excellent cold hardiness on fabulously foliaged evergreen plants. They can stand very low temperatures without any damage: this one proved hardy with no damage at -27°C and is supposed to survive even lower temperatures of USDA zone 5, perhaps 4 with protection.