01 February 2013

Mixson Triangle Survey

I originally posted this last year, but recently construction projects have started again and this area will soon be multi-family housing units.

Chinese Wisteria
A saw a very different episode of "Naturscene" on SCETV a while ago.  Instead of hiking through a state park or nature preserve, naturalist Rudy Mancke took viewers to a vacant lot in the middle of Columbia, SC.  It was interesting what he was able to find there despite it being in a large city.  I've been eying a vacant area in our neighborhood with the idea of exploring it for a few years now.  It was the site of a WWII housing project until about 2006, when the houses were razed and part of the area was prepared for a large, new-urbanist development.  They built less than ten units with a vision of creating an Italian-style village, but it stalled with the economy, and the design was probably not the best fit for the area.  Every time I drive by this area I'm calling the Mixson Triangle, I look to see what's blooming, or I notice something that I hadn't seen before.  I've gotten a couple of day lilies and maybe a few other flowers from the triangle, but I wanted to go and traipse around and really see what was growing there.

Large Amaryllis
Despite being a very hot, sunny day, I decided to go exploring.  I parked at the north corner of the triangle and work my way south, coming back up near Mixson Avenue.  I knew some of the plants I would find - since it used to be a residential area I expected to see azaleas and other landscape plants, but I was surprised I didn't see as many cultivated plants that I knew were there.
I knew I should find at least one Gladiolus near where I started.  Ours have started to come up, but I couldn't find this one.  Knowing a lot of flowers weren't blooming now - too early for day lilies and possibly too late for narcissus - I was looking hard at all of the foliage, trying to identify anything I could.  The two things I couldn't miss were azaleas and Chinese wisteria.  The whole area was peppered with wisteria and azaleas were one of the last vestiges of this once-residential area.  One of the few cultivated plants I found was a single large Amaryllis, with multiple flowers.
I know I shouldn't be surprised by this, but there was a lot of what we call (Virginia) Spiderwort, or Tradescantia virginiana.  It's native to our area, growing wild all over the neighborhood, but I've never seen any that looked as good as these.  They looked very healthy and robust, unlike the ones on our street.
Virginia Spiderwort
Just off of Holmes Avenue near Durant Avenue, I came across a large patch of ferns, but not much of anything else.  As I worked my way through the brush over to Mixson Avenue, I found several large areas full of blackberries.  I imagine nearby residents probably get there fill once they start producing fruit.  Unfortunately, these people are probably the reason for the large amount of trash strewn along the fence line between Holmes and Durant.  Except for a few pine trees and lots of little oaks, there was not much of interest among the dead annual weeds and grasses in most of the lot.  I know there were lots of Narcissus bulbs scattered throughout the area, but I found few signs of them.  I thought there were more Yuccas, but I only saw a couple.
One of my last discoveries was a line of Narcissus foliage near a blooming azalea and a nice river birch tree.  I could imagine a house once being there, the flowers line the front with the bushes and trees.  I know one day it will be redeveloped, but, with a little imagination, it's a small window into the past.

For more photos, click here

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