Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Finding the Right Southern Gentleman -- Sex in the Garden

Maryland Beauty is a real babe of a winterberry -- nicely curvaceous outline with bright red accents. I had my eye on her for sometime as I made my way around town. Bertholdi Garden down the street has a real specimen of it. So when I bought one for my rehabed front garden last year, I never considered that she needed a mate.

Last fall she flowered -- demure, tiny little buds and blooms. But without any male companionship, she failed to conceive. This happened quietly and I never noticed until winter came. She shed her foliage, but had set no bright red berries. I remembered then that hollies needed both male and female plants to produce berries; hadn't realized that winterberries shared this heterosexuality.

A weekend visit to friends in Chesapeake City, MD last week took me by Priapi Nurseries, where I had bought the Maryland Beauty. One of the gardeners found a male winterberry tucked in the back shadehouse. His name -- Southern Gentleman.

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