Japanese 'Soft Touch' Holly - Ilex crenata 'Soft Touch' - Planted in Back Beds - November 2023

The fun of evergreens as part of my Fall Planting Sprint comes to an end today with three Japanese 'Soft Touch' Holly.  Named Ilex crenata 'Soft Touch' - these are a little different than most of the Hollys that I've become familiar with over the years.  The name is the big tell - they're not full of sharp points.  I came across a few of these 'larger-than-one-gallon' nursery pots on a bench at the Orange big box store and quickly whipped out my phone.  Here's what the foliage looks like before planting:

Soft Touch Japanese Holly is a dense, mounded, evergreen shrub with a moderate growth rate. Unlike its parent, it will reach a relatively short height of 3 feet and has soft-textured leaves without the sharp spines typically found on Japanese Holly. Soft Touch Japanese Holly glossy green leaves also have an interesting silver mid-vein. It works well planted in borders, as an accent, or along walkways. Black ornamental berries persist throughout winter for cool season interest.
They're evergreen.

They're Japanese.

They're compact/dwarf.

They have winter interest.   

That's the total package.

As for placement...it works in sun or part shade.  So, I thought this could be a good opportunity for an evergreen shrub in the backyard.  I stuck it behind the row of hostas - to the west of the Weeping Nootka Cypress.  See below for the location at planting.

As for this area, I'm already thinking that it is going to be one of my 2024 'priority planting areas' that I can think about all Winter.

These three shrubs - knock wood - will help set the tone back there for even more planting.  One of the first steps is to get those hostas out of there and moved around.

I planted these in mid-October, but posting it in early November 2023. 

I've run the full 2023 'evergreen' total and it is a remarkable 36.  

21 boxwoods

7 evergreen trees

5 dwarf conifer shrubs

3 Japanese holly shrubs.

Hard to believe, but I'm hoping that I've begun to correct my evergreen deficiency just a little bit.  

My 2023 Fall Planting List - so far - includes a number of new and divided plants.  

Now up to 49 new plants.  3 new via division.  7 Trees.  52 total for 2023 #FallPlanting.  21 of them are groundcover plants.  Five sedums.

As for my #1 2023 item on the list - planting evergreens.  How have I done on that?

According to my late-summer checkin post, I have planted 19 evergreens in 2023:  5 boxwoods in front, 13 boxwoods in back and a columnar scotch pine tree.  That tree has died, however.  Add the Baby Blue Spruce tree from this past week and I'm up to 20 evergreens (so far) in 2023.  With this Bird's Nest Spruce, that's 21 total.  Two Weeping Norway Spruce - that's 22 and 23 for 2023.  The Montrose Charm makes 24.  This Baby Blue Spruce (#2) is 25.  The 3rd Baby Blue Spruce is 26 evergreens for 2023. Golden Mop Cypress is 27.  First Blue Star Juniper is 28 - planted by the back stoop.  2nd Blue Star is 29.   This 2nd Bird's Nest Spruce (3rd overall) makes an even 30 for 2023.  Three Green Velvet Boxwoods brings the total up to 33.

These Japanese 'Soft Touch' Holly are the final evergreens for 2023 - total of 36.  That's a big number.


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