The first choice for the letter "Q" in the garden would have to be Quercus (oak) because the resident live oaks make such an important difference that I can't imagine the garden without them.
The botanical name Quercus fusiformis is so descriptive. They are like living sculpture with their quirky forms. The curvy, twisty structure results from tough growing conditions--a combination of rocky limestone soil and hot, dry weather much of the year, plus a battle for sunshine since these trees grow in groups.
These curving oaks create a beautiful view over the fence into the back yard.
Live oaks grow in groups called a motte. The motte consists of several trunks with interconnected roots. The roots grow near the surface and pop up sprouts all over the yard. It's not a problem for lawns which are mowed regularly, but for those of us who don't have lawns it can be viewed as a problem to be dealt with. Or it can simply be treated as a ground cover and left alone. They can be cut back which is a pain or disguised as I am attempting to do here with bronze asiatic jasmine. All those plants in the background are oak sprouts. The oak sprouts have been cut back from the front where the asiatic jasmine is planted. This is a test area to see if I like it, and the bronze color seems to work well with the color of the sprouts.
Live oaks retain their leaves through winter dormancy and drop them in the spring as new leaves emerge. The first clatter of leaves falling to the ground on the breeze is an important sign of spring.
We have the architect's plans for our house and it's nice to note that not only were the trees preserved but the house was designed around them. An L-shape configuration and the set back front entry allowed the existing motte to remain undisturbed.
This striking oak by the garage was established as a starting point for the south side of the house. In fact, the plans state "Existing tree, do not harm in any way". This tree isn't visible from inside the house but is always a beautiful sight when returning home, even if I've only been to the grocery store.
The house is 32 feet tall so this tree is probably stands about 40 feet.
It also shades the south side of the house from our relentless south Texas summer sun.
There is one large oak motte just outside the back door. The architect centered the breakfast room windows on the trees. It's so nice to see this view out the windows from the kitchen every day. I have always found it mesmerizing and will never tire of it. We had the existing solid door replaced with full glass so I could enjoy the view from several vantage points.
The plans for the front walk state that the existing trees are to remain and the walk should curve around them.
Here's another view of the walk showing the curve through the trees.
The photo above is also the inspiring view from my desk and just one of the reasons I couldn't imagine my garden without Quercus fusiformis.
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