My dear friend Stepheny Houghtlin recently spent three fun days visiting with us. We talked for hours about the shared loves of our lives…gardening, writing…and grandchildren. She published her wonderful first book, Greening of A Heart, a year ago and has already reached an international audience. She came to hear a presentation I gave to the Charlotte Garden Club and then joined me to hear a panel discussion on social media at the Charlotte Writers Club.
At dinner she commented on the beauty of a simple floral centerpiece my wife created with foliage of Aucuba japonica ‘Mr. Goldstrike.’ Its gold leaves are a bright spot in my garden, particularly in winter, and my wife always seems to have a vase full to bring color into the house.
Aucuba is another of those great plants for shade. I had an unidentified variegated aucuba at our home in northern Virginia just outside a bathroom window. It served as a weather guide for me in winter. If the aucuba leaves were drooping and looking half dead, I knew it was below freezing outside. When the temperature rose above freezing, the leaves bounded back to their normal perkiness.
Many aucuba clippings in my wife’s vases put out small rootlets. It is an almost foolproof process to then pot them up and generate new plants. I had several pots I started last fall, and they are healthy and happy, despite the recent snow and ice.
Stepheny is starting a new garden. She left with one of my aucuba pots.
How blessed am I to have a friend who is a garden guru that generously shares his expertise with everyone who needs him. I hope the cutting he has given me will grow into a beautiful shrub like his to remind me of the two beautiful gardens I have seen him create.