Friday, December 5, 2008

Christmas Cheer Charleston Style

Poinsettia in Charleston

While we winter weather wimpy Charlestonians were turning our thermostats up and complaining about a few hours of freezing temperatures, this garden poinsettia maintained its focus and was thus able to pull off a few blooms just in time for the holiday season. Now as anyone knows who has ever mistreated their brand-new florist poinsettia, they don't like the cold, much less a freeze. But this poinsettia was protected from the freeze by the top-secret frost protection gizmo of....

Deep eaves

very, very deep eaves that kept white frost from settling on the leaves. Lots of tropical plants in Charleston that were unlucky enough to not have such protection were knocked back by freezing temps a couple of weeks before this picture was taken. The old Navy base where we found this plant has been closed for years so it is pretty safe to say this plant has been neglected.

We both remember when there were several poinsettias in the ground in downtown Charleston which for the most part, modern landscaping has eliminated (the plants, that is...not Charleston). And that is quite a shame as poinsettias are part of Charleston history. Their discover, Joel Poinsett, was born right here. He served in a number of political roles including being our first minister to Mexico (that was an early form of ambassador and yeah, I had to go googling for that detail) which is what he was doing when he found this member of euphorbia family growing in southern Mexico.

I think the moral of this story is to experiment with planting some marginally hardy plants under hard shade in the form of an overhang, an evergreen tree like a live oak, or even an evergreen shrub. I'm obsessed with the topic of frost protection right now so stay-tuned...more to follow.


Kim said...

I grew up in Pensacola, FL. I remember this poinsettia growing under the eaves of a house across the street from my best friend. It must have been 10 feet high and close to 20 feet across and in full bloom. While we got cold weather in Pensacola (I remember one year when our bayou was completely frozen on Christmas and one year when we lost all our azaleas to 5 degree temps) it must have been a warm winter that year. I'd forgotten about that lovely sight, and I thank you for bringing back the memory.

Cosmo said...

Hi, Annie--great to find your blog (and thanks for visiting mine). I've managed to keep poinsettias growing for a year or two, but I've never seen them bloom again--your eaves are doing a great job! I'm looking forward to exploring your blog--I like finding other southern gardens (even if we are quite a bit coller here in VA)

Annie said...

Oops! Let me clarify: that isn't my house although I would love one like it.

Wow, Kim, on the frozen over bayou! I can't imagine that kind of cold in Pensacola. It snowed here the Christmas after Hurricane Hugo hit. Was really a blessing as it covered all the destruction and made everything look beautiful for a day.