Friday, November 7, 2008

Quercus Maximus!

The "hallway" at Peckerwood
(A creek is on the left)
A bunch of Austin bloggeners took a field trip today to Peckerwood, architect and plant collector, John Fairey's, life work in Hempstead. Thanks to Diana at Sharing Nature's Garden for pulling this together. Peckerwood is more of an arboretum really, since trees, or really, oaks are the star of this acreage. Oaks and more oaks, in varieties quite amazing. Some pines, magnolias, lots of palms, agaves, and cycads. But really LOTS OF OAKS.
Our guide, Chris Camacho, was very patient and answered our bazillion questions and was amazingly knowledgable about his botany. He is one of two fulltime gardeners. The creekside hallway was my favorite part of Peckerwood. This long corridor of lawn is mostly in shade bordered by pines and a creek on one side and a low hedge of palms on the other. It was like a giant green bowling alley and made me realize how a longing for emerald lawns is deeply embedded in our DNA.

This tree is a Japanese oak. Click on this picture to enlarge so you can see how fab this tree is. It has white limbs on a multi-branching trunk with glossy dark green leaves in a huge arching canopy. It is elegant and at the same time, very sturdy and bold. Texas sabals can be seen at the foot. The "hallway" continues winding back to the left.

Toward the house the arboretum ends and a more planned garden takes hold, with a spikey mix of agaves, yucca, cacti, cycads and palms. Guide Chris pointed out that John Fairey is not very interested in flowers and has even been known to lop off blooms that get in the way of his structural vision. His one indulgence is apparently camellias. This part of Texas, Waller County, has soil that is neutral, neither acid nor alkali, so the diversity of plants that can grow there is vast.

Behind this feathery Muhly grass is a 5-foot crinum, streaked with magenta and green.

This Pindo palm might work well in my backyard. Hmmm...

After spending several hours grilling Chris with questions, we were starving and adjourned to lunch at the Secret Garden Cafe in Hempstead. It was a fun day and it's great to be with fellow gardeners who never tire of obsessing over arcane plant minutiae. Check out more Peckerwood pics & posts at Digging, Zanthan, Good & Evil, Sharing Nature's Garden, Vert, and Conscious Gardening.


ConsciousGardener said...

Hey, I thought "butt pic's" were a no-no! It was a fun day for sure!

Anonymous said...

You chose very different scenes with your camera than I did, and I'm so glad you focused on the trees and that "hallway" because I didn't do them justice. It was fun spending time with you and Cheryl in the car. Next time, Mexico, right?

Diana said...

Libby - I had a great day with you and I love your post. You got the perfect shot of that Japanese oak that I was so in awe of. I want a full-grown one in my landscape, but not in 15 years!

Rock rose said...

Another perspective on the garden. Thank-you. What I wouldn't give for some of that neutral soil, but alas it is never to be.

Carol Michel said...

It's interesting, having read the other posts about this garden visit, how different each of your perspectives are. It is definitely a personal experience, visiting a garden, even with a group. Thanks for the focus on the trees.

Carol, May Dreams Gardens

Annie in Austin said...

Libby, that photo of the bloggers would get you in trouble with the Divas of the Dirt, too ;-]

I've been reading the individual posts by you who went to Peckerwood together, one after another. This is totally fascinating as each post adds another layer, another viewpoint and additional information.

I love your observations on the psychology of the garden, including the rolling lawn under trees and the lack of any flowers but camellias.

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

vertie said...

It was great to finally meet you in person, Libby. You've had my husband singing Monty Python songs all afternoon.

Anonymous said...

These overall shots are a wonderful way for all of us to share in the garden spaces. Emerald green is comforting isn't it?

Lisa at Greenbow said...

I am just getting around to see what everyone thought of this place. I hadn't seen the hallway before. It is inviting. So coool looking.

cotedetexas said...

I never heard of this place - love the comments about the butt picture! too funny.

thanks for your great comment tonight - The original Parent Trap is indeed on my list! Dr. Zhivago too! And let me tell you - I can walk into a house and tell if Jewish people live there - jewdar! it's hysterical. I LIVED that life!!!!!

and thanks for the shout out in the Texas Monthly home column - got that tonight in email!!! thanks so much for including my blog address! you are the sweetest!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!