Friday, August 28, 2015

Touring Peckerwood Garden Part Two: Residence and Dry Gardens

We're continuing the tour of Peckerwood Garden in Hempstead, Texas just about two hours east of San Antonio.  Part One covered the expansive arboretum and shady woodland garden.  Now we've arrived at the gardens near the house.

We left off with a glimpse of a brightly blooming azalea through the trees.  Rounding the turn toward the house it comes into full view.  Rows of trimmed azaleas along a foundation or bordering the lawn are a familiar spring sight in my hometown of Houston. With so few flowering plants in the garden just one solitary azalea allowed to grow full among the trees makes a strikingly bright accent.


Beschorneria septentrionalis was on my must-see list and it's blooming!


For all its acclaim as a plant collection, Peckerwood was first a personal garden surrounding the home of artist John Fairey.  Because all tours are guided we are invited to get quite close to the residence.  


Another surprise, the sheared shrubs are a small-leaved viburnum and not boxwood.


Columnar boxwood repeats vertical elements along the arbor and the cactus garden.


Weeping Boxwood is so cool, I've not seen this in nurseries.


A little farther right is the back side of the dry garden we toured in my earlier post.


Spiky softball bats?


Casually displayed rocks under the arbor speak of decades of adventures.  Shade covers help new plants establish.


A few details






Skirted Nolina perfection inside the gate.  (N. Nelsonii I think) Though the gate was open, we did not enter the private space.




A cooling water feature set in decomposed granite


Specimen plants in pots arranged along the pool surround.



A trough is on my to-do list.




Looking back toward the arboretum, the silvery palms from my last post in the background.


I recognized the sculpture by Marcia Donahue from this post on Digging.





More art in the garden marks our pathway back out of the garden.



We are not quite finished.  There is a plant sale in the greenhouse.


After realizing I had somehow missed Agave ovatifolia during the tour, I took this shot since I couldn't very well visit Peckerwood Garden without seeing at least one.


I considered this pretty Fringe Tree for a while but thought it might require too much water.


Unfortunately, the Beschoneria septentrionalis I sought was not available at the sale and I ended up not purchasing anything.  I'll order one from Yucca Do since it's from the same original source.

Peckerwood is in the process of creating a GIS plant map which will be a great addition since it was not possible to enjoy the tour and record names at the same time.  We had a great time touring the garden and look forward to a return visit in a different season.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Peckerwood: That garden with the funny name

Peckerwood Garden.  It's an odd sounding name unless you are familiar with its story.  Named for Peckerwood Plantation in the story Auntie Mame, it's home to John Fairey, artist, architect, and plant collector, who has been instrumental in bringing many popular spiky plants to market.  He and plantsman Lynn Lowery made numerous plant hunting trips to Mexico in the 1970s and 80s.  For many years a private home and garden for Mr. Fairey it's now a public garden and beneficiary of The Garden Conservancy Open Days program.

In late March we arrived for one of Peckerwood Garden's Open Days tours.  Spiky entry garden is courtesy of well-known mail order nursery Yucca Do founded by John Fairey on the site.   Peckerwood acquired the property several years ago when Yucca Do relocated which added 20 acres to the gardens for a total of 39 acres including parking, offices, and greenhouses which are now used by the Peckerwood Garden Conservation Foundation.


We're off to a great start with blue skies and coolish temperatures.


I'd seen so many photos of the garden that I didn't expect many surprises.  One big surprise was how many non-spiky plants are in the garden.  In fact a good deal of the garden is an arboretum featuring oaks brought back from plant hunting trips to Mexico over three decades.  Most of the existing trees on the property were wiped out in a 1983 tornado leaving plenty of room for specimen plants.



The Weeping oak is very cool


Beautifully elongated leaves on this one, possibly Chinquapin Oak, which grows well in San Antonio.



Lead volunteer John Lomax (blue cap) is an enthusiastic and knowledgeable guide.  All the volunteers are personally trained by John Fairey.   I didn't take notes so many of the plants will go unidentified like this tree with leaves that turn red in spring.


Wish I could remember.  I'm loving those silvery palms which were everywhere.


No name for this tree with the fantastic textured trunk either.



Conifers, rare in my semi-arid climate, grow well in this more tropical climate and acidic soil.



Another surprise was an extensive collection of rain lilies.


More of those silvery palms



On to our first look at the dry garden.


Yuccas burned when the adjacent garage caught fire are bouncing back. (I think that was the story but there was so much to remember).




Mature plants allowed only a few paths where we could (carefully) walk through.  We'll get a closer look at John Fairey's home toward the end of our tour.


Pristine gravel always impresses, especially considering the garden relies primarily on volunteers and contributions.


Art like this metal sculpture is featured throughout the gardens


Wisteria arbors attract attention in the midst of so much green


Even the arbors serve as art in the garden



Oh to have this much space for palms!



This large circle of trees anchors a "cross hall" cutting through the garden.  The scale here is huge!


We turn to our right and follow the "hallway" through a woodland garden.


It's a lot to take in on one visit.


Delightful bell-shaped flowers on a small tree-like shrub


The predominate silver and green color scheme is punctuated by red blooms such as this Mexican Buckeye.




Camellia (I think)



Across the stream is another dry garden which is not open to visitors due to a washed out bridge.


So close, yet so far.   Look at that forest of Yucca!



I found myself wondering what it would take to replace the bridge.



There's something about Cypress knees.



Manicured shrubs and brightly blooming Azalea mark our turn toward the house.


In my next post we'll explore the gardens around John Fairey's home.