‘Christmas Holiday’ Heliconia

This tropical plant (Heliconia vaginalis ‘Christmas Holiday’) couldn’t have a more apt name. It blooms in December and its inflorescences are pure red with white, sitting atop dark green foliage.   

Located – Tropical Display House

‘Christmas Tree’ Liriope

Many horticulturists turn up their noses at liriope (Liriope muscari), thinking it overused, but some things are overused for a reason. Most liriope can take sun or shade, they are evergreen, drought tolerant, and they have attractive purple flowers in late summer. ‘Christmas Tree’ has the same blooms, but held in clusters that are shaped like little purple Christmas trees.

Located – The Conifer Garden

‘Elfin King’ Strawberry Bush

This is one of the compact strawberry bushes (Arbutus unedo ‘Elfin King’). Unlike most plants, they flower at the same time as fruit ripens from last year’s flowers. There are few plants that flower and fruit at the same time. The white blooms are bell shaped and resemble those of blueberries. The red fruits are textured like strawberries, and though they are edible, they are more often used to make liqueur than for eating fresh.

Located – Airport Berm

Joseph Lemper’ Christmas Rose

Not really a rose, but a very early blooming hellebore (Helleborus niger ‘Joseph Lemper’ HGC®). Pure white flowers open in December on nearly evergreen foliage. Hellebores as a group prefer shade, and once they are established, they can be very drought tolerant. Later on, look for many more hellebore varieties to brighten the winter landscape with their blooms.

Located – The Glade

‘Merry Christmas’ American Holly

This female selection is a cultivar of our native American holly (Ilex opaca). Like the wild species, it can take a wide range of light conditions, and at this time of year it is covered with bright red berries.

Located – The Holly Garden


This plant (Phoradendron leucarpum) is an evergreen parasite that grows on and from other plants. The ancient druids thought this made it magical, and brought it into their houses to ward off evil spirits, where it morphed into our tradition of kissing underneath  it. Even though it has romantic connotations, beware, its little white fruits are poisonous proving that love can sometimes be a little dangerous.

Located – Wildflower Meadow