Plant of the Week: BRASS BUCKLE® Japanese holly

As spring approaches, I’ve been writing quite a lot about companion plants. Shrubs that pair nicely with the heavy hitters of flowering ornamentals – roses and hydrangeas. Gardeners are looking for companion plants that thrive in the same growing conditions and complement, while not overwhelming, their favorite flowering shrubs.

Choosing companions that have four-season interest is a great place to start. These hardworking shrubs will provide a pop of color when the rest of your flowering shrubs have gone to bed for the winter.

Evergreens are a natural choice. But if you’d like to try an evergreen that isn’t quite so, well… green, try Brass Buckle® Japanese holly.

It has clear, bright yellow color that is more attractive than that of other gold varieties. Brass Buckle® has a very nice compact habit, too. Japanese hollies can be a little touchy in colder climates, but this one has done very well for us here in West Michigan.

Hardy to USDA Zone 6, it will grow in full sun or partial shade. Brass Buckle® Ilex crenata grows 12-18″ tall and wide – a great size for edging walks and borders. 

Speaking of Gold

The 2022 Winter Olympics certainly has had some less-than-successful moments, but there are still some incredible success stories to be told. One of my favorites is the Gold Medal earned by US speed skater Erin Jackson. She has a fascinating story. Jackson started out roller skating at a young age and competed as an inline skater. Before switching to the ice, she won 12 world championship medals and 47 national titles. 

Last Sunday, she skated her way to the gold medal in the 500 meter for Team USA – the first since Bonnie Blair in 1994. She set more than one record, Jackson’s gold was the first medal for an African American woman in speed skating.

But it wasn’t a done deal after the trials. Although Jackson was ranked number one in the world going into the Trials, she stumbled during the race and didn’t qualify. That was until teammate Brittany Bowe, who had already qualified for the Olympics in the 1,000-meter and 1,500-meter, gave up her spot in Beijing so her friend and teammate could go in her place.

Bowe ended up walking away with her own Olympic success. Four days after Jackson won gold, Bowe earned bronze in the 1,000 meters. With her third-place finish, Bowe became the first American woman to win a medal in the event in 20 years.

The motto here could be, every cloud has a *gold* lining.

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