Is Hortitopia a geographic region?
Yes. Hortitopia is the portion of the Appalachian Piedmont known as “The Upstate” of South Carolina. Its epicenter (for me) is Greenville, a city with a metropolitan population of about 600,000 situated equidistant between the Southern megalopolises of Atlanta and Charlotte.More important than these details, however, is its abundance of plant and animal species. A place like no other, the region is described by experts as “a biological hotspot of natural diversity that harbors some of the rarest plants and animals in the world.”
In terms of what I know best—gardening—the Upstate is not just a hotspot but also a sweet spot. It’s suited for cultivation of an extremely wide range of plants, from Southern favorites like gardenias and camellias to those beloved plants that typically flourish in more northerly climates such as lilacs and peonies.
Is Hortitopia a garden?
Yes. Hortitopia is my garden along the banks of the Reedy River just a few miles downstream from Falls Park in Greenville. It too is unique.The property, nearly an acre in size, comprises intensely cultivated spaces around a 1950’s home and a woodland area that reaches down to the river in a series of terraces. In the two years I’ve lived here, I’ve worked to renew the cultivated landscape and, with my husband’s help, to restore the natural area by removing invasive plants such as English ivy and Japanese knotweed.
The woodland’s north-facing slope, known by field botanists as “rich cove forest,” is home to some of the Piedmont’s most enchanting native plants such as Carolina silverbell, wild hydrangea, sweetshrub, Solomon’s seal, mayapple, trillium, bloodroot, and a vast array of ferns.
Is Hortitopia a frame of mind?
Yes. Hortitopia is the happiness I experience when I work in my garden or visit other carefully-tended landscapes. Gardening and garden touring are my yoga, my spa, my prayer, my remedy, and my renewal.Hortitopia —the region, the garden, and the frame of mind—is what I plan to write about here. It’s the topic of this blog.