The south entrance to James Blair Hall is flanked by two Lusterleaf Holly (Ilex latifolia) trees. This nonnative species has unusually coarse-textured and long (up to 6 inches) leaves and bears dense clusters of large red berries.
Directly west of the building is the Tyler Family Garden, dedicated in 2004 in recognition of the Tyler family's extraordinary legacy to the College over three centuries. Three bronze busts feature Lyon Gardiner Tyler, the 17th president of William and Mary; his father, the 10th U.S. President, John Tyler, who served as rector and chancellor of the College; and Lyon Gardiner Tyler’s grandfather, John Tyler, who served as the 18th governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia.
As you enter the garden, you will notice a dense vine hugging the old brick border. This is the creeping fig (Ficus pumila) sporting its juvenile leaves. Routine pruning will keep the small-leaved habit. Inside the garden are a number of interesting specimens including the maidenhair tree (Ginkgo biloba ‘Princeton Sentry’), the only tree species with a fan-shaped leaf. Fossil evidence indicates that the ginkgo family dates back 270 million years, with this species as the only survivor in a small area of central China.
Other features of this garden include Carolina allspice (Calycanthus floridus ‘Athens’), snowbell (Styrax sp.), a fringe flower hedge (Loropetalum chinense), and an elusive native volunteer, cross vine (Bignonia capreolata), finding a home on the brick border on the north side.