Friday, January 26, 2007

The garden in winter

I did a quick survey of the yard. The Nandina and Ilex winterberries, red and coral are at their showy best now when there's not much color otherwise.

I was amazed to learn that yerba mate the drink that the Argentinian gauchos are addicted to, is a tea made from a holly, Ilex paraguariensis. I thought it was made from a grass or herb. I would have never thought that any holly would be consumable. I saw some in a health food store several years ago and tried it. I rather liked the taste and it didn't bother my stomach like coffee. It's supposed to be high in caffeine but it didn't affect me much. I think tea has more caffeine. Part of a Christmas present from my brother-in-law was a pound of the stuff. It came in a bag about the size of a large 3 pound bag of coffee - should last me a life time.

The witch hazels are in their prime now but don't seem to be as fragrant as in previous years. I wonder why the difference? We have several different types -two red Hamamelis x intemedia, I think a yellow H. Japonica and the common H. virginiana which seems to be the most fragrant of all but I don't like its habit of retaining its leaves thus hiding the flowers. I just stuck my nose close to the H. virginiana and it has the sweet frangrance that I find very pleasing but last year you could smell it standing 10 feet or more away from the shrub.

Not much other than that of interest now as the hellebores are slow to develop.


Blogger Blackswamp_Girl said...

I can't believe that yerba mate is from a holly!!! Great pictures of the berries and flowering witch hazels in your garden.

4:13 PM  
Blogger Annie in Austin said...

Not just one color of Witch Hazel but two, and the coral colored berries on that Ilex are beautiful! We grow nandina, but our native Ilex is Ilex vomitoria or Yaupon. It's supposedly a medicine plant. With a name like that I wouldn't think you'd want it in tea.

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

6:22 PM  
Blogger Ki said...

Hi Kim and Annie,
Previously I thought holly was only the kind that have the sharp spines on the leaves, the ones commonly used for Christmas decoration. Now I find that there are many kinds of holly. We planted several kinds, sky pencils, ink berry, winterberries, some kind of named large holly with orange fruit and blue prince I think. I looked up the Yaupon and the plant looks great. Actuallly very pretty. Must have been used as an emetic by the Native Americans? That's a great name - vomitoria. Yeah I don't think I want tea made from it.

The witch hazels are a nice addition for winter especially because they have a very nice perfume.

6:16 AM  

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