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Virtues: Brass Buckle is a miniature evergreen shrub that stands just half the size of most other cultivars of Japanese holly. It boasts yellow foliage that remains attractive year-round. Thanks to its size, it makes a cute consistently colorful addition to a rock garden and it does well to edge a path. It can also be kept in a container year-round in the warmer regions of its growing range.
Common name: Brass Buckle Japanese holly
Botanical name: Ilex crenata Brass Buckle or 'ANNYS1'
Exposure: Full to part sun
Foliage: Shining yellow evergreen leaves line the stems of this dwarf Japanese holly. Leaves toward the interior of the plant are colored lime, giving this fine-textured shrub some nice depth. The foliage remains colorful and burn-free throughout the year.
Habit: This evergreen shrub grows to a mound just 12 to 18 inches tall and wide, putting it among the smallest Japanese hollies on the market.
Origin: The species Ilex crenata is native to forests and mountain slopes of northeastern Asia. Brass Buckle is a cultivar introduced by Proven Winners.
How to grow it: Plant Brass Buckle Japanese holly in full sun or part sun. This plant prefers soil on the acidic side. It requires little maintenance but it will need watering during times of drought. Mulch around this shrub to help moderate the soil moisture and temperature even. Because it is naturally compact, Brass Buckle should not require pruning or shaping. It is suited to edging along a path, planting as an accent in a rock garden or growing in a container in the warmer portion of its hardiness range. Feed it in spring with a slow-release fertilizer for acid-loving shrubs, such as organic Holly-tone. USDA Zones 6–8 (year-round container hardy in Zones 7 and 8).
Image credit: Proven Winners
Recommended related reading:
Discover the year-round beauty that broadleaved evergreens can bring to the garden in Sean Hogan's book Trees for All Seasons. He covers hollies as well as many other plants, totaling over 300 recommendations that rival needle-leaved conifers for winter interest. Note: Most plants in this book are hardy to USDA Zone 7 and warmer.
Find other dwarf plants plus novel rock-gardening design ideas in Joseph Tychonievich's Rock Gardening: Reimagining a Classic Style.
Learn to base your garden design off of plants with colorful or textural leaves in the book Gardening With Foliage First by Karen Chapman and Christina Salwitz.