07 February 2008

Sycamore in storm light

I'm posting this the Sunday after Arkansas and other southern states were hit by a swath of tornados. I took this photo, maybe the afternoon of that day, but the storms never bothered us here in the Northwest Arkansas.

 I read an interview with a lifelong rancher who said that warm winter weather always indicated storms and I worry with the increase in warm weather we could be seeing an increasing trend of longer storm seasons and perhaps bigger storms.  My thoughts and prayers go out to Atkins, AR and the other places who lost their trees and people who lost homes, pets and, most tragically, their loved ones. 

Frost on young Blue Princess Holly

I love hollies because they have berries for the birds and deep green for the winter. Now that I've gotten all the visions of poor hollies shorn into bizarre and artificial globes out of my mind from those mall and suburban landscapes of childhood! I like hollies natural shaped and mixed closely with other shrubs. The American Hollies (not pictured) are particularly lovely -- especially now that I've seen their true potential twenty or so years down the road after my visit to Bernheim Forest in Kentucky. They have dozens and dozens of hollies that are twenty, thirty feet tall, and most have the natural shape of an enormous Christmas tree -- though some are more rangy and some are perfectly full.

I got lucky this past November and happened to catch the local Lowe's during their plant clearance for the winter. At all but one Lowe's, only a few straggling, struggling plants remained. But at the very newest one -- the one the local folks aren't used to being there -- there were loads of shrubs still in great shape. (It drives me crazy when the big box stores don't care for their plants and let them die in public en masse in the heat of the Arkansas summer. I can't bear to go to our local Home Depot for this reason...) The sale had gone down to 75% off -- so I packed my car with hollies and other evergreens -- Nellie Stevens holly, Blue Princess holly, needlepoint holly, some juniper, a few old fashioned weigelias.

Now all that was before I read the book that has refigured my garden philosophy towards native plants.  Larrapin Garden has always been about food for birds, butterflies, beneficials and us...but I had failed to understand the difference between making that food Ozark American vs. Chinese (so to speak).  Wow, have my eyes been opened!

Bringing Nature Home (book review to come) is my new favorite book -- the book I'd buy a whole case of and distribute to everyone I know if I could. After reading the wonderful book review over at A Study in Contrasts I want to review some of my favorite garden books here. Stay tuned. Thanks for visiting!