What's wrong with this holly?

Actually, it might not be a holly. This is in Rochester NY (zone 5-6-ish), eastern exposure, roots about 2 feet from blacktop driveway. A friend just moved into the house two days ago. We have no idea how the shrub was treated/managed in the past. Previous owner is very secretive about it, since she's deceased. Wind/frost could be the issue, but I'm wondering if soil could somehow be SO screwed up that it would cause what you see in the pictures.
Two pictures: http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c197/ancientangler/HollyFull.jpg?t 40166781
http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c197/ancientangler/HollyCloseUp.jpg?t 40166793
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Looks like wind burn perhaps exacerbated by lack of water.
Bill
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Garden in shade zone 5 S Jersey USA

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http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c197/ancientangler/HollyCloseUp.jpg?t 40166793
Seems to be damaged predoninently to the driveway side. Being in the driveway and at that low height at first I thought it could be damage from hot auto exhaust but then I noticed it's right at the back door so it could be someone has been tossing their dirty soapy mop bucket water. I can see some smaller much lower plants there that don't seem affected so maybe those are too low for the exhaust or are simply more tolerant or the holly is shielding them from overspray. It's barely growing season there yet, I'd leave it alone and wait... just don't idle an automobile/riding mower there and don't be tossing dirty water there... looks like they tossed the fercocktah liquid from the top step over the bush into the wind and that's the result of blow back... could even be the result of someones habit of constantly tossing the dregs of a beverage, hot or cold... I bet my Crystal Palace w/grapefruit juice could do that, 'cept I never toss any 'cept down my hatch. Maybe that solves the mystery of left over beer. You have to admit it's located perfectly for tossing dregs of drinks both coming and going.
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The plant is actually about 15 feet from the side door. I think we can safely rule out dishwater damage.
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You need to return with your tape measure, it's right up to that landing, there's only one shingle length from the door jamb to the corner of the building, and it not two feet from the driveway, it plainly overhangs the blacktop.
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It's the camera lens foreshortening the stuff in the picture.
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On Sun, 19 Apr 2009 15:00:00 -0400, "JoeSpareBedroom"

This is not a holly but Oregon grape root. It produces clusters of small yellow flowers in the spring, then produces small bunches of dark purple berries that resemble grapes.
First, carefully inspect the plant for pests. I doubt that is an issue, but check anyway.
Prune it back to shape, clean off the surface soil and mulch it with compost. Don't hesitate to prune it back halfway, it will trigger new growth. It does not like too much heat, but your zone should be fine. The plant has medicinal uses including heart rate regulation. Propagate using layering. I believe your plant will recover with one pruning and mulching treatment. The plant has thick waxy leaves making it resistant to wind, frost, and physical damage. I would not rule out soil contamination, did you use salt on the driveway during the winter?
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wrote:

My friend just moved in two days ago. But, the previous owner was pretty frail, so I'll bet she salted the bejeezus out of the driveway. My friend won't. She's a nurse. She thinks injuries are fascinating. :-)
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wrote:

Hi Joe Welcome back I agree w/ Phisherman, it is a holly grape or grape holly. It's genus is Mahonia (but sometimes listed as Berberis as the experts can't agree on its genus yet. Could be M. aquifolium, Oregon HG. It should be OK as to cold so I am thinking the driveway salt is a good guess.
Oh, Phish, it doesn't mind the heat so much as the direct sun. It does fine here in Nor Cal where we go into the 100s+ every summer. Just likes early morning sun; a drought tolereant, low water plant also.
Emilie NorCal
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On 4/19/09 3:00 PM, in article RwKGl.64073$0% snipped-for-privacy@newsfe22.iad,

http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c197/ancientangler/HollyFull.jpg?t 4016678> 1
Looks almost like the salt damage my parents hollies got one year. The trees were the victim of a really bad winter and more than the usual amount of salt - both from the ocean and sanding truck. (They're on Cape Cod and only a mile from the open water)
C
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<http://www1.umn.edu/umnnews/Feature_Stories/Salt_damage_on_plants.html
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