While weeding in the garden last week, I had the strange feeling I was being watched. Sure enough, a Fowler’s Toad was watching my every move from his subterranean summer timeshare. These particular native toads like to live near water, so our rain garden provided the perfect habitat. Ecologically healthy gardens make great homes for an array of cool wildlife.
The superb (and spineless) Ilex ‘Cherry Bomb’ is looking amazing in the garden this week. Our specimen is now 22 years old, and measures 35′ tall x 15′ wide. It originated at the US National Arboretum as part of Dr. William Kosar’s breeding program, and is a 1959/1960 seedling from Ilex ‘Nellie R. Stevens’, most likely a hybrid with the spineless Ilex integra.
It was sent around to different growers for evaluation trials under a code #, and was later determined to not have enough value for northern US growers, so a destruction notice was sent by the National Arboretum.
Like some characters in the slasher flicks, it wasn’t completely destroyed, as propagations from the holly managed, quite improperly, to make its way to the deep south, where growers found it quite extraordinary, and in the 1980s, it was given the name Ilex ‘Cherry Bomb’ by Dr. Dave Creech of Steven F. Austin University. This wonderful plant is now a staple in the Southern nursery industry.
In the dim pre-dawn light, I was making my morning trek to retrieve the morning newspaper, when my attention was pulled to a pain-like screeching coming from the garden. It wasn’t hard to follow the noise, which turned out to be a hungry praying mantis, squeezing the life from a still struggling cicada, who’d found itself in the wrong place at the wrong time. There are so many wonderful opportunities in the garden to observe nature if we just slow down and be mindful of each moment.