I'd be remiss if I didn't start this post with a thank you to the dentist/non-blogger/brother of the scientist on vacation/blogger/sister on vacation - who, for the past two evenings, sat with a glass of wine and a bag of Lays potato chips, intently focused on his first ever blog posts. He and I had a nice visit to Virginia - and we were glad that we could be there for our Dad.
A week ago, when I was visting my favorite camellia grower, I noticed several yaupon hollies, covered in spanish moss. They were really beautiful - the contrast between the red and green and silver-grey of the moss.
Yaupon holly (Ilex vomitoria) is native to the southeastern United States (and west to Mexico) - it is mainly found along sandy coastal areas here in South Carolina. The origin of the name is interesting (and according to Wikipedia):
Native Americans used the leaves and stems to brew a tea called asi or black drink for male-only purification and unity rituals. The ceremony included vomiting, and Europeans incorrectly believed that it was the drink itself that caused it (hence the Latin name). The active ingredient is actually caffeine, and the vomiting was either learned or as a result of the great quantities in which they drank the beverage.
So as I was driving south in the rain today - in bumper-to-bumper traffic on I-95 (that on at least five ocassions came to a complete standstill) - I found myself thinking about yaupon holly and italian cypresses (Cupressus sempervirens).
I have never been a big fan of italian cypresses - and I realized during a recent tour of a beautiful garden on James Island that much of this was due to their odd use in not very well landscaped suburban yards. Their use in the James Island garden was quite beautiful - and less formal (think 'tuscany' vs 'viennese palace'). I've always associated them with formal - when possibly they might be the most beautiful when used informally.
The weekend before Thanksgiving I spent some time cleaning out the area in front of my fence (the one that faces the road). It's about 200' of wooden fence - and in front of it are a random collection of trees that were fortunate enough to find themselves there: wax myrtles, an ash, a poplar - and a pine tree (one of those loblolly's that attempt to reach the sky and are a nightmare during hurricanes). I'd like to spruce up this area - it's a narrow area (maybe 4-5'?) between the fence and a drainage ditch (water management is a big thing this close to the marsh) - the 'ditch' is managed by the county and gets periodically mowed/dug out, etc. But the 4-5' is a nice width for certain trees - trees that are narrow perhaps? So...what I'm thinking is to mingle what is there with some italian cypresses and yaupon holly. There's something about the contrast that it will generate - the evergreen cypresses and wax myrtles and holly - with the other deciduous trees.
I love mixed borders, and perhaps it will be a little experiment in mixing...and since each Christmas for awhile now I have gotten a tree to decorate (and then plant in the garden) - a nice Italian cypress might just fill the bill. I'm excited.
A new gardening adventure perhaps?!