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chinese holly grape | mahonia lomariifolia

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Posted by EDITOR 21 May 2010 - 9:20:00 AM

Strolling through a grand Southern Highlands garden with an experienced nurseryman the other day, he remarked how little response he's had to efforts to promote Mahonias like this Chinese Holly Grape.
It's not a plant I'd warmed to quickly. Something sombre and unfriendly about those dark prickly leaves.
But that's changed. I now like it much for the very same characteristics. The stiff jagged leaves like a leathery fern whorled around upright stems give the Chinese Holly Grape its striking architecture.
And then there are the fingers of bright and fragrant yellow flowers as the season gets cold and most other plants are hiding. Those fingers in turn become weighed down as decorative strings of milky green then blue fruit. On top of that, the new leaves are copper-coloured.
A vertical habit for narrow positions (though the spiky leaves still need enough space to be out of the way) and suited to shade for an oriental-style screen or a feature specimen in a contemporary design it's a shrub with a lot to offer.

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