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.

24 comments:

  1. Nice tour, Shirley. You showed some aspects of the garden that I have not seen before.

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    1. Thank you Michael, it was a challenge to present a new view of such a well-documented garden.

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  2. How I wish I had that kind of space! (On second thought, I can't even water the 1/2 acre I have so best perhaps that I don't have more land.) That Yucca forest is impressive. And Camellias too - amazing.

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    1. Watering is not a big problem due to regular rains year round.

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  3. Quite an understated garden but still packs a punch! And those blue palms are just gorgeous!

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    1. It is primarily a plant collector's garden and understanding that is key to appreciating. Exploring the gardens around the house next and that will be more of a typical tour.

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  4. What an amazing garden and how fortunate to be led through via the images you captured. A garden so large certainly invites multiple visits, yes? Looking forward to seeing the gardens close to the house!

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    1. Thank you Deb and I would love to go back in different season, it's over two hours drive so requires some planning.

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  5. Oh the Palms! And the forest of Yucca, and the Palms!

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    1. It's a special experience to walk among the palms.

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  6. That pueple / blue wall with the yuccas is even better than some of the palm areas. (are the bluish palms some kind of Brahea?) Quite the variety, azaleas to agaves. Someday...

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    1. You would notice the wall color. I did a little research and they are apparently Sabal.

      http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/19/garden/a-texas-gardener-looks-to-mexico-for-inspiration.html

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  7. That Chinquapin Oak is pretty special! It looks like a unique place with many unique features. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. We have similar oaks and they are quite pretty.

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  8. Thanks for sharing this! I've been wanting to go for a few years and just picked up the fall schedule of tours at our local nursery this past weekend. Hoping to get to go!

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    1. It's worth it and you live even closer than we do.

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  9. Love the name, I use it quite often . ha ha...

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  10. It's definitely a garden name that would be hard to forget. It is surprising to see a conifer in Texas.

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    1. I guess I didn't write that quite right. Actually a sizable swath of Texas is thick with conifers in the form of Loblolly Pines. Mostly found in rainy East Texas, Peckerwood is just east of that range so the pines will grow there. Where I live is too far west and too dry although we have a few in our neighborhood.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piney_Woods

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  11. Auntie Mame is one of my favorite movies so I love the garden's name! Oh those silver palms and the yucca forest and all that space. Beautiful!

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  12. I've been to Peckerwood three times and have never gotten across that washed-out bridge yet. It's so frustrating to see that wonderful blue wall beckoning and not be able to explore that area. Maybe we bloggers should take up a collection to have the bridge rebuilt. I mean, how much could it be? :-)

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    1. I was thinking a special fundraiser just for the bridge was needed and it's certainly a big disappointment for bloggers not to explore the whole garden.

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  13. I love the name Peckerwood...and what a fabulous spot...great trees especially the weeping oak...thanks for sharing this incredible spot Shirley. Looking forward to the next part.

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