From the Sperry Garden – January, 2011

I bought this great little single-trunk Nellie R. Stevens holly from my friends at Covington Nursery in Rowlett four months ago. It’s the second time I’ve had a specimen Nellie R. Stevens. The first time was in 1970, when a lovely plant was given to me as a housewarming gift. I moved off and left that tree 34 years ago, but last time that I looked, it was still going strong. Its trunk is now 5 or 6 inches in diameter.

In between, I’ve had (and still have) dozens of shrub-form Nellie R. Stevens hollies. I use them as tall accent shrubs and as tall screens where I want to block views or noise. It’s my favorite tall shrub, and it’s equally well-suited to sun and to shade. Great plant!

That said, it broke my heart to see all the riddling the woodpecker had done to my new little tree. We live out in the country, and I needed to do something quickly to protect it from further damage.

I went into McKinney last week. I picked up Tree Tanglefoot and some white tree wrap material (I couldn’t find my much-preferred brown paper tree wrap).

I was set to wrap the trunk the next morning. As I went up the driveway, the bird was back, and the other side of the trunk was getting blasted. I wasn’t happy with the tree wrap, so in haste, I wrapped the trunk with aluminum foil, just to deter the bird.

A day or two later, the bird had obviously been back, because the foil was peeled back and was hanging loose. So, that was when we reached for the duct tape and gave it one more wrap to hold the foil in place. That was several days ago, and so far, so good.

Once the wounds have a chance to heal and seal over, I’ll take the wrap off and let the wood of the tree re-cover the peck holes. That’s when I’ll probably put the sticky Tree Tanglefoot in place on the trunk. The tree will eventually be fine.

Woodpeckers and sapsuckers normally don’t do any major damage to a tree (live oaks, pecans, etc.), nor do they suggest the presence of any particular insects. You’ll see their symmetrically arranged rows of holes. However, I have experienced more pronounced damage on a couple of my hollies, so I stepped to my new plant’s rescue this time around.

Enough was enough. More news as I get it.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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