Some guys go duck hunting on Christmas. Some people go to movies. Momma and I went in search of an elusive vine: Supple Jack. To be honest, the vine isn’t rare, but its home is in blackwater swamps. Special places, also home to cotton mouths and deep holes hidden in black water, but in winter, it’s thigh deep cold black muck and deer hunters who might mistake plant hunters for quarry to worry ’bout. All of that aside, this one swamp, along the Salkehatchie River, is a place of reflection and home to me.
Among the massive trees, vines of all sorts clamber. This has always been a great place to play Tarzan. Doing just that helped me learn the ways of the vines: their bark color, the kinds of wounds they get, which way they twist and climb. Supple Jack, a favorite of friends who weave baskets, is usually growing off a little mound of dirt, from the base of cypress, surrounded by cold coffee colored water. And it’s usually thick as drain pipes and twisted into its own baskets. From the big ones, its often impossible to get cuttings; the good, small wood for that might be 130 feet up in the canopy.
We did it though. On this short Christmas day walk, without swinging through trees, chopping up snakes or sinking in quicksand, we found the beautiful black muscled woody liana. Nearby, we found a young one to dig, tons of cutting wood that we rolled, like a basket weaver, rolled up into a tight coil and put in Momma’s trunk, with her ever present shovel.
Cuttings go into the outside propagation bed today. Hopefully by summer garden open day, we’ll have little ones, little sprouts of wild for your your garden, your place of reflection.
(For more about why I love using Supple Jack as a garden vine, you can see a page from Deep Rooted Wisdom by clicking here. )