Deck the halls with boughs of holly! Holly is a classic symbol of the
winter season-while not commercially grown in California, you can find
some individual growers throughout the state.
"We wanted to grow holly because it goes along so well with Christmas
trees and whatever goes along with Christmas trees we try," said
Dorthea Engstrom of Santa's Acres Christmas Tree Farm near Placerville.
Dorthea and her late husband, Harold, began growing holly about 20 years
ago and she says her Sierra Foothills farm is ideal for producing this
"The soil is rich and deep...and it smells so good," said Dorthea.
It takes a male tree to produce the pollen for the female plants, which
are the ones that produce the berries, berries that are more abundant
if there's a fair amount of sun. Engstrom, who started her crop by growing
a few plants in her front yard, never dreamed the plants at her tree farm
would reach a stately 20 feet high.
There are more than 400 species of holly around the world, native to every
continent except Antarctica. English holly is the classic Christmas holly
thanks to its deep green glossy leaves and nice, red berries. If you buy
a tree at Santa's Acres Dorthea will give you a nice, big bag of holly.
Santa's Acres is six miles east of Placerville, off Hwy 50, at the Gold
Harvest Exit. The address is 2921 Barkley Road, Camino, CA 95709. You
can call (530) 644-2141.