As most of my readers know, I love traveling around the country for my fictional books. Whether my research takes me to big cities like Charleston, Savannah, New Orleans or Memphis, small towns like Natchez, Mississippi or Jesup, Georgia, or forgotten mountain hideaways like Balsam, North Carolina, I’m enchanted by the South. I love the slower pace, the slower speech patterns and the wonderful food. This past year I learned to love cheesy shrimp and grits, steamed oysters, and she-crab soup.
But since I’m a country girl who loves getting her hands dirty in my garden, I’m always intrigued by the plants which grow where the winters don’t get as cold and snowy as (northern) Ohio’s. Here are eight of my favorite plants that don’t grow where I live, plus the magnificent magnolia tree, which does grow here, but is far less common up north. (My photo is from one of my neighbor’s two magnolias in her front yard. Some people have all the luck!) All photos except the magnolia were taken on the coast of Georgia.
l) camellias – they were blooming everywhere in February! What a treat!!
2) saw palmetto – used often in landscape borders. According to one landscaper, it’s the berries that are being used in prostate research. Fan-shaped plant must have the “saw” teeth in order to have those berries.
3) palmetto palms – close to the ground, grows abundantly in all coastal natural areas
4) loblolly pine – aka, southern yellow pine. I saw huge forests of them in Georgia, Florida, Alabama, South and North Carolina. For timber industry, it’s the most commercially important tree in Southeastern US.
5) yaupon holly – waxy leaves, red berries, grows wild in maritime forest, but the bush is a nice addition to yards too.
6) palm trees – I just learned some get coconuts, some don’t. Majestic trees, but don’t stand up well to hurricane force winds.
7) live oaks – the tree which most of us Yankees associate with the deep South. Cute little acorns. Keeps its leaves year-round, which means it’s always losing some year-round, so you’re never down raking or blowing leaves. And you almost never see one without the ubiquitous Spanish moss.
8) bamboo – found tall, thick stands of this used as privacy fences everywhere. Much cheaper than chain-link!! Some places it has become downright invasive!
9) magnolia – quintessential “Southern” flower (but it does grow up north too.) (on very bottom of post)
I know there are plenty of other southern plants that I didn’t include, but I saw these everywhere I went on St. Simons Island and Jekyll Island, Georgia.
Tell me what plant or flower you love to see on vacation that doesn’t grow where you live for a chance to win a copy of The Amish Sweet Shop. Please leave an email address. US and Canada only.
Happy Spring, Mary Ellis