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Natural Landscaping Part 4

By Brenda Peters

A new year has begun, and I am looking forward to continuing my natural landscaping project. However, we have gotten so much rain that my yard seems to be constantly saturated. The cool temperatures and cloudy conditions have made the drying out process very slow. Just about the time it seems to be dry enough, it rains again! I consider it undesirable to work in these conditions and find myself admiring the yard from a window. My view is filled with bare deciduous trees and shrubs dotted with evergreens. They stand above the ground that is covered with leaves, brown grass and plant stalks, and the occasional green patches of weeds.

Evergreens offer a beautiful contrast to the drab surroundings of a winter season. With the exception of pine, three types of evergreens are abundant throughout my landscape. Eastern Redcedar or Juniper and American Holly are considered small trees, although they can reach heights of 40 feet. Wax Myrtle or Southern Bayberry is a large shrub or small tree, depending on its growing conditions and can reach a height of 20 feet. All are extremely adaptable and tolerate soil moisture variations from dry to wet. Although the Holly and Wax Myrtle can tolerate shade or partial shade, Redcedar prefers full sun. Most of these are small in stature in my yard. Since I have been working on thinning out the saplings, they should have plenty of room to grow and meet their full potential.

All three evergreens are dioecious, meaning that the male and female flowers are on separate plants. At least one male plant is needed for pollination of the female flowers, which are small and inconspicuous. Eastern Redcedar and Wax Myrtle female plants produce small blue gray berries. The American Holly produces small red berries.

Native evergreen shrubs and trees add interest and beauty to a winter landscape. They provide much needed protective cover, flowers for pollinators, and seeds and fruits for birds and other wildlife. If you are thinking about adding something to your landscape, I hope you will consider one of these evergreens. Whether in the yard or from a window, my view appreciates their inclusion.