From the Sperry Garden – Yaupon Holly


It was 1978. We had just moved into a new house a year earlier. We had two youngsters, and a third was in the planning stage. New mortgage. Two new jobs to pay the bills. I had just left the Texas Agricultural Extension Service, now Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, to go into the private sector of the horticultural industry. It was a scary time for us financially (what time isn’t!), yet I was struggling to put a landscape together around our rural Collin County homesite.

We had just removed some gnarled old redcedar scrubs that had been mangled by construction, and we had a wide-open vista to the county road just to our south. And passersby had a wide-open vista back. My dilemma: privacy fast, but no money to buy it.

I wanted a male yaupon holly (faster growth, due to no production of fruit), and in my search, I came across one that was a little on the rich side of $1,000. So, I thought for a moment: Food? Diapers? Nope. I told my friend at Blalock’s Gardens in Dallas that I would like to buy that great-looking yaupon. “Oh, I’m so sorry,” he said. “A lady came in this morning and asked us to put a ‘Sold’ tag on it. It’s gone.”

I spent the next six months combing Metroplex garden centers looking for another yaupon I liked half as much. But, I never found one. I happened back into Blalock’s in April, and there was “my plant” still sitting there on the lot. “I thought you said it was sold,” I said to the owner. “Funniest thing,” he said. “It was, but that lady was in here this morning, and she told us she just couldn’t afford it.”

SperryGardens_May13_2-2ndSo, my destiny plant became mine. It took five men to move and reset it into our landscape. Its trunks were probably 2 inches each in diameter then, and it was 8 or 9 feet tall. Now, it completely dominates its part of our garden. 6-inch trunks supporting an 18-foot canopy.

I am proud of my plant. I am proud of me for taking that plunge. The lovely old yaupon should keep right on ticking for another 100 years. Our postures aren’t what they used to be, as you can see from its trunks and my knees, but we’re tough Texas natives, and we’re here for the long haul.

My whole-tree photo shows new growth and old growth all at the same time, and it really doesn’t show my pal off to advantage. Kinda like having your portrait photo taken halfway through your haircut.

But you get the idea. This plant is my friend.

Posted by Neil Sperry
Back To Top