Spring has arrived early here in South Carolina. The wildlife is more active, flowers are starting to bloom, and the sun is shining brightly over the mountains. Plus, the black bears around the woods will be waking up soon from hibernation.
In Celtic mythology the Holly tree is a symbol for peace and goodwill. We decided to celebrate 2023 by planting holly trees in the woods around our home. Plus, holly trees add a pop of color in the winter months. Holly trees are easy to care for and only need to be fertilized once a year. The best location for planting a holly is in well-drained, slightly acidic soil with full sun.
Here are the steps to planting holly trees:
Lay them out in the configuration that most appeals to you. Remember to try to see them as they will look in maturity. The variety here, ‘Mary Nell’ grows to about 20-30 feet high and spreads out to 10 feet in a pyramid shape, so space them accordingly.
Gently remove the holly out of the container. Carefully break up the bottom of the root ball. This is an important step, especially if the plant has become root bound at the nursery. Loosening the bottom of the root system will promote new growth and ensure a good start for your holly in its permanent location.
Dig a hole! Our Carolina mountain clay is a bit more challenging than most soils for digging, so we use both a pick and shovel to work through the clay, small rocks, and roots. Though clay is tough to work with, hollies love it!
Continue digging until the the hole is twice as wide as the root ball and the root ball sits just slightly above ground level. (See Diagram Below)
Place some timed-release tree fertilizer, and an organic soil amendment (bagged top soil and/or a good planting mix, at a 25-50% ratio with the soil removed from the planting hole) at the bottom and sides of the hole.
Water the contents liberally, allowing the water to soak through the mixture. Place the holly into the hole and fill the hole with the rest of the original clay. The holly should sit so that the top of the root ball is at about the same height as the top of the hole.
Wrap a cover such as burlap around the newly planted holly to keep moisture in the soil and to protect the plant from wind-burn and extreme temperatures. This is an especially important step if you are planting in the winter.
Use landscaping pins to hold the burlap in place.
The burlap and pins are now in place and should look something like this.
Cover the burlap with sawdust or mulch. Finally, water the holly completely one more time.
Before you know it, you will have beautiful holly trees with lovely red berries! 😊🌲
The woods are alive with bright colors and wildlife during the cold winter months. There is a mystical feeling of viewing the clouds over Table Rock Mountain. At twilight, you can see pink and yellow sky surrounding the mountains.
Table Rock Mountain has been voted one of the top leaf peeping destinations in the Southeast. Click here for more information. Wherever you go, you will see a colorful burst of yellow, red, orange, brown, and vibrant green.
These majestic birds get their name from the humming noise their wings make in flight. Hummingbirds flap their wings 10 to more than 80 times per second. Here in South Carolina, we have four species of hummingbirds, the ruby-throated hummingbird, rufous hummingbird, black-chinned hummingbird, and calliope hummingbird. The most common one I have seen in my backyard is the ruby-throated hummingbird. The ruby-throated hummingbirds’ wings flap about 53 times a second. The males have ruby-red throats and the females have white throats.
Overall, research indicates that the hummingbird can fly 23 miles in one day. Hummingbirds are the only birds that can fly backward. They can see ultraviolet light plus RGB (Red, Green, and Blue) due to the fourth cone in their eyes. Hummingbirds can see red and green colors very well. Plus, hummingbirds can recognize humans that feed them and change the contents of their feeder. They are in desperate need of nectar in the fall season for energy to fly back to Mexico or Florida for the winter. A few remain in the winter along the coast. In the spring many of them fly over the Gulf of Mexico back to the U.S. in one non-stop flight.
Fun Facts About Hummingbirds
If a hummingbird crosses your path, or visits your home, know that it is a blessing. Throughout history, hummingbirds have been associated to be a symbol of light and joy.
Here is a free guide to help identify hummingbirds in your backyard from The Cornell Lab of Ornithology.Click Here.
September is a special time for black bears. The bears enter hyperphagia and look for food up to 20 hours a day! They have definitely been more active in the back of the woods near our trail camera. Read more about bears in September here.
Hope you have fun watching these trail camera videos.
Throughout time moths have been a symbol of rebirth and transformation. Although, some may have negative connotations with moths such as death and dying or simply having holes left inside your expensive sweaters. The moth is a reminder for us to lighten up and not to take life so seriously. The Hopi Tribe uses the moth as their power animal and displays this mystical insect in decorative pottery and dance costumes.
Since I moved to the woods in South Carolina, I have spent two years compiling photos of these magnificent moths that have briefly stopped by for a quick visit at my front door.
May the magic of the moth spark a light within you everywhere you go.
They are found in the woodland and love to eat oak leaves. Both males and females are bright orange with a white spot on both sides of their wings. The white spots remind me of the ‘evil eye’ that symbolizes protection.
The clymene moth is rare and is thought to be a spiritual sign of a ‘blessing’ for those who come across this beauty. They are known for their gorgeous markings of the cross on their wings that extend inwards.
A lovely combination of yellow and brown. Its main purpose is to reproduce. This beautiful moth has a lifespan of one week because it doesn’t eat.
More about the Imperial Moth.
Geometer moths are small to medium in size and have slender bodies. They are also known as the pepper and salt geometer or peppered moth because of the light and dark bands on their wings. The adult size range from small to medium.
Cossula Magnifica (Pecan Carpenterworm Moth)
When I saw this moth, I thought it was a piece of stick that got caught onto the front of the cabin after a rain storm. 😂 Their wingspan is 32-45mm and the markings have tiny black dashes with light grey wings. They eat wood and lay their eggs on the wood.
Azalea Sphinx (Sphinx Moth)
A very large moth with large chunky wings that can fly 12 mph. They are called sphinx moths because when resting their turtle-like heads retract and resemble the symbol of the sphinx. These moths need to raise their body temperature to 96 degrees F to fly.
Rosy Maple Moth
The rosy maple moth is known to be one of the most beautiful moths due to its vibrant pink and yellow colors. The females lay 10-30 eggs on the underside of the leaves. Their wingspan is 3.4-5.2 cm. These moths have thick and fuzzy bodies with long antennae that allow them to detect pheromones. Mating adults are looking for partners in the early summer through fall. In South Carolina, mating occurs in March-October.
I saw this one on my way to the local supermarket, Ingles. It was hiding on the white cement wall by the entrance. The leopard moth is recognized by its white wings and black spots. Their wingspan is 5.7-9.1 cm. The underside of the belly is a bright blue.
Here is a video displaying all the details of the leopard moth.
It’s so rare to capture a hawk on a trail camera. We feel very lucky to have captured footage of this guy (on the right) that landed at the back of our cabin. I love the attitude and entitled stare at the camera. 🥰 To read more about hawks in South Carolina visit Wild Bird World.
This little gal has a cute backstep after eating. Eat, peck, kick, repeat, eat, peck, kick, repeat. Who knew a turkey had a rhythm when eating? Aside from that did you know that turkeys can see better than humans? They can see in color and their eyesight covers 270 degrees.
For more fun facts about turkeys click here on the World Animal Protection website.