All I want for Christmas is a Ginkgo.

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I’m married to a man that likes to plant things. He’s a farmer’s son. Go figure. Instead of a new tool or “man toy” he wants to buy a tree or a new plant he’s just learned about. He’s also conservative with the money, so with very little monetary investment he’s managed to comprise a wide assortment of plantings on our property.

When we moved about 2 years ago to a new home plopped in the middle of the woods we had a bunch of landscaping to do. Initially we treked to the local nurseries snagging any deals we could find, as well as the local sale at Clemson every fall. After that we spent a little here and there, but a large majority of our landscaping has been free.

There are the trees that he’s transplanted from our own woods…birch, poplar, maple and even a dogwood – about a dozen in all. All free. And all have survived so far except one. That was a sad day.

Then there’s Miss Beth and Miss Ineke from church. Both possess green thumbs. I can’t tell you everything they’ve given us over the past couple years when things have needed dividing or for them to make room for something else. What a treat.

And of course there’s both sets of our parents who we’ve amassed quite the collection of wax myrtles, red buds, bulbs, money plant, lambs ear and other varieties from. Needless to say we never turn down free plants and have a veritable plethora of specimens to try to keep alive. Can’t imagine what it will all look like in 10 years.

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This year we’ve hit a road block. The Ginkgo tree. My husband bought one at deep, deep discount at our former abode but it didn’t make it. Considering the going rate for a 5′ Ginkgo around here is $100-150.00, $7.00 was wishful thinking to begin with. Anyway, this year he’d like to plant one. For that price, it may have to be a Christmas present.

We first became aware of Gingko trees when our former neighbor, JB, planted one. JB was like that guy, Wilson from Home Improvement that talked to Tim through the fence and was really smart. JB knew everything about everything but he wasn’t a smarty-pants. Any question we could ask that had anything to do with science, history or human relations JB could answer.

Once a stray cat climbed a tree in our yard and wouldn’t come down so we called JB. JB walked up in our yard with ropes and spikes for his boots and in a few seconds he was 40 feet up the tall, straight chestnut oak. JB was a nice guy. And that was one happy cat.

JB could explain northern lights, gross domestic product, the Electoral College and he was fluent in 12 languages. He also played the guitar and was even once Captain Von Trapp in a production of The Sound of Music, singing and strolling, guitar and all. A man of many talents.

Anytime there was an international incident, hostage crisis, or a child in a well, JB would suddenly have to leave town on “business.”

Coincidence? I think not.

His story was that he was some kind of inspector at an underwear plant in South America.

Rumor has it JB was a scientist on the Manhattan project, he actually did invent the internet, negotiated the Bosnian cease fire and developed Tang. JB, I don’t know where you are now, but man, you rock. You rock.

So when my husband saw JB plant a Gingko, he knew it must be the thing to do.

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A beautiful tree, the Ginkgo dons fanlike leaves that turn bright yellow in the fall. It’s quite striking – almost glowing in the sunlight. Did you know that scientists believe there are no wild Gingko’s still in existence? Ginkgo’s have been cultivated for centuries in Asia and the Ginkgo varieties we have now are thought to be related to species that once grew wild in Asia.

Archeologist have findings that show that the Ginkgo’s covered a large part of North American and Asia long ago before the ice age. That must have been a sight to see in the fall.

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Ginkgo’s are hearty. They can tolerate a wide variety of conditions so they are ideally suited for the urban landscape. Some of the prettiest ones we’ve seen were in Washington, DC and Savannah, GA. Huge trees lining parks. And of course Ginkgo is well known for it’s medicinal and herbal benefits but that’s another post altogether.

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I guess I’ll be on the lookout for a good and healthy Ginkgo in the next few weeks. Unless of course JB shows up in the middle of the night dressed as one particular white bearded, red coated, jolly man and plants one for us.

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What are you planning on planting this year? Is there an interesting specimen that you can tell us all about? Or is this going to be the first year you plant an herb garden?