From the Sperry Garden – January, 2012

Landscapes often consist of "rooms," just like the insides of our homes do. We have a relatively small front yard. It’s actually right where my wife was standing as she took this photo before the rain moved in earlier this week.

You’ve seen this arch in photos both here and in my magazine, although I’ve never been standing in it before. I’m usually the one taking the photo, and usually the Japanese maple behind me is fully leafed out. Usually there are large potted tropical plants filling all the open spaces beyond the arch. That’s the way you’ve normally seen this spot in our gardens.

I like the simplicity of winter, and nowhere is it more noticeable than in this part of our landscape. That’s when I realize how really crazy I am for hollies. Lynn took this photo for another purpose, but as I opened it up in Photoshop, I saw a salesman’s sampler of hollies.

Starting in the lower left of the photo is a Carissa branch, with a twig from a mature Nellie R. Stevens holly sticking in just above it. On the left side of the photo, about waist high, is a dwarf yaupon holly. Behind me, over my right shoulder, I see one of many Mary Nell hollies in the mid-background, and behind the maple’s trunk is the finest plant I’ve ever bought – a huge male yaupon holly tree with three 6-inch trunks. I bought it 30 years ago, and it was more than I should have spent even way back then. It really doesn’t show up, but trust me, it’s there. To the right in the photo is a Willowleaf holly, and at its feet you can see a piece of dwarf Chinese holly.

So, one small vista, seven hollies visible. I simply wouldn’t be able to landscape without hollies. I have another couple of dozen types in our yard.

But, the reason I had Lynn take this photo was actually to show off my new Sul Ross University Agriculture sweatshirt. This wonderful little school is in the Big Bend Country, in Alpine, county seat of Texas’ largest county (Brewster County). At one mile of elevation and surrounded by mountains, it’s a glorious town of 5,000 where my dad taught during the Depression. I was two when our family moved to College Station, but Alpine remains one of my favorite places in Texas. Our son Brian got this great shirt for me for Christmas. This was going to be my "Where’s Neil" photo, but I was desperate for something to talk about from our landscape. So, now you know. (I promise I won’t be in next issue’s photo from our home landscape.)

Posted by Neil Sperry
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