Q: I planted five Nellie Stevens hollies two years ago. They grew very well last year and looked good this fall early winter. I was gone Jan-Feb, but when I returned I noticed all the leaves on the lower 1-2 feet on the trunk were gone.
A: The 45° angle of clipping at the end of the branches tells me this is rabbit damage.
I have never seen it on hollies like this but I am pretty sure I am right. You will not see any more damage because they can’t reach any higher.
If you want to hide the bare branches, Lenten rose or maybe one of the smaller Encore azaleas or autumn fern would work. They will probably sprout new leaves eventually.