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HoldForm in defined function doesn't seem to work

I'm struggling to understand why this doesn't work:

f[x_] = HoldForm[x];
HoldForm[123 456 789] (* returns "123 x 456 x 789" *)
f[123 456 789] (* returns"44253432" *)

I don't understand why the two results are different.   Is there a
special trick I need to do to be able to define f so that the HoldForm

I'm using this to help visualize the way a notebook represents typed
expressions, so I'm trying to do something like this:

BoxTree[expr_] := TreeForm[ToBoxes[HoldForm[expr]][[1]]];
a b c d e // BoxTree
123 456 789 // BoxTree (* want this to show as a RowBox like the
previous example *)

Any help would be greatly appreciated.  Thanks.

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