This site is for people who like plants -- growers, enthusiasts, aesthetes, novices and professionals, those who appreciate wild things and those who appreciate the cultivated. I garden in Chelsea, and I've been visiting people's yards for 20+ years in the course of my work. My goal is to make this blog a community project, so if you share my interests, please consider becoming a participant and contributing content -- Guerin. Info:

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Paxistima: an evergreen groundcover that I like to show off to visitors and which is deserving of a wider introduction

Paxistima is an excellent, non-invasive alternative to myrtle and the evergreen euonymus species. I planted a piece of it more than 10 years ago in dry, crumbly, unfertilized soil in the shade of a large oak. It now forms a compact, low, six-foot-wide patch of fine dark-green foliage. What more can one ask for?
        I first became acquainted with Paxistima when working for the Forest Service in the Siskiyou Mountains of Oregon. In that area Paxistima myrsinites (called Oregon boxleaf) was quite common. I even donated a pressed specimen of it to the woody-plant-identification lab at U-M, ignoring the fact that it could serve no function there. I was excited to discover that there exists a second species, Paxistima canbyi, which is native to the mountains of Virginia and West Virginia and is available in the nursery trade. OK, it's not available around here, but apparently it is used in gardens of the eastern US, and you can order it through the mail. Which I did. And so did another gardener on Orkney in Ann Arbor who is using it to very nice effect. Plantsman Michael Dirr from Georgia says that the eastern species is sometimes called 'rat-stripper.' Well!

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