Saxon Holt was a kid, he "had" to garden. It
was not an option.
remember my father’s vegetable garden where I had to
weed and pick and cut the grass," says Holt of his
childhood in Newport News, Va.
mom would pay me a penny for each dandelion I would pick
in the walkway. That was not enough incentive and I was
not very good at it.
never knew there was any ‘book learning’ about
gardening until I started looking for work as a garden
photographer about 30 years ago," he says.
education was my parents saying ‘go do it’ and then
trial and error when I first started my own
a lifelong gardener and professional landscape
photographer — www.saxonholt.com — Holt is also an
author. His e-book, "Good Garden Photography"
was awarded the 2015 Gold Award from the Garden Writers
Association as best overall garden book published in
also passionate about native plants, which were not a
part of Holt’s childhood gardening experiences. In
fact, he never recalls his mother, former Newport News
City Councilwoman Mary Sherwood Holt, even mentioning
native species back then.
his mother has taken a keen interest in native plants,
especially those with the word "virginiana"
attached to them, he jokes.
have tried to kid her, without success, that many plants
with virginiana as the species, such as the Eastern Red
Cedar Juniperus virginiana, or Thimbleweed, Anemone
virginiana were simply first described by a pioneering
botanist but are actually quite common across the entire
eastern half of the country," he says humorously.
Holt lives and gardens in California, where he cares for
mature oaks, several meadows, a small vegetable garden
and a "wonderful shrub border." California
natives are very much a part of his garden, and a new
photo project that will illustrate the state’s native
with natives connects the gardener to the land and helps
them appreciate their local ecosystem," Holt says.
often people take their local habitats for granted and
don’t see the natural beauty. Using natives can help
us connect to the land where we are and understand
native plants are some of Saxon Holt’s favorites:
weed, Asclepias tuberosa. Blooms June-September with
flat-topped clusters of bright orange flowers. Grows one
to three feet tall, likes sun to part shade and average
to poor, well-drained soil. Drought tolerant, does not
transplant well. Deer resistant.
bergamot, Monarda fistulosa. Blooms June-September with
rounded cluster of tubular, lavender flowers. Grows two
to three feet tall, likes sun to part shade and any
dry-to-medium soil. Minty, aromatic leaves traditionally
used to make tea.
blue phlox, Phlox divaricate. Blooms April-May with
clusters of one-inch blue flowers that are slightly
fragrant. Grows one to two feet tall, and likes part
shade to shade and rich-average, well-drained soil. Good
woodland ground cover, appreciates mulch and fertilizer.
Deadhead to prevent powdery mildew.
root, Heuchera Americana. Blooms April-May with small
pale-green flowers on tall spikes above foliage. Grows
six to 12 inches tall, and likes part shade to shade and
rich, well-drained soil.
groundcover, burgundy and silver markings on winter
foliage. Deer resistant.
Diospyros virginiana. Blooms April-June and
August-October with inconspicuous flowers. Grows 40 to
60 feet tall, and likes sun to part shade and average,
dry-medium soil. Drought tolerant. Nectar source and
host plant for Luna moth. Produces fruit when seven to
eight years old.