From the Sperry Garden

I went out into our garden day-before-yesterday to see what looked the best at that moment. This grouping of plants is what my wife sees when she parks. The little landscaping colony separates our most visible “front yard” from the side and back areas of our landscape.

First, notice the retaining wall. We had our house built at the base of a slope 28 years ago. The retaining wall allows us to maintain level areas of turf. Moreover, it allows us to delineate the highly landscaped area and separate it from the 200 feet of hillside that extend between the wall and our county road. It is our boundary.

Second, the native pecans enframe the entire bed. You’ll see English ivy clambering up the pecans’ trunks. I keep it trimmed off the outer limbs. On the trunks, as it is, it causes no problems.

Notice our forsythias still blooming. Those of you in South Texas are going to think this photo was taken much earlier, but we’ve had cool, cloudy weather much of March and things in North Texas are blooming a couple of weeks later. I’m a big fan of forsythia. In fact, I used it as a test plant in much of my Masters Degree research at Ohio State. It’s far more common in the North. Here, in my native Texas, it is best suited to the northern half of the state.

Those are Mary Nell hollies around the forsythia. In fact, those are the first Mary Nells I ever planted some 15 to 18 years ago. They have been so good to me that I’ve planted many more elsewhere in our gardens. They’re now second only to my beloved Nellie R. Stevens hollies as tall, evergreen screens.

That is compact nandina, again, dating back 20 years or more. It grows to about 40 inches tall, but we prune it generously each winter by cutting the tallest canes completely back to the ground. Notice that it does produce berries, unlike the newer Gulfstream and Moonbay nandinas.

Running along the retaining wall you can see English ivy. This is a very sunny area, but it hugs the north slope of the stones and never suffers any ill effects in the summertime. Talk about a plant seeking a micro-climate. This plant would not survive even one summer if it were growing one foot farther north or south of this east-west wall. That’s why it never attempts to spread in those directions. Oh, by the way, this is the same planting of English ivy that is growing up the pecans. It has crept its way along the retaining wall over the last 25 years.

Finally, just one other plant to point out: the Japanese maple in all its early-spring red glory. This is my wife’s favorite tree, so I put it right here where she and her mother can see it each time they return home.

So, there is your virtual tour of a little part of the Sperry home landscape. We’ll have more next time around.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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