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.
After 10 years gardening on solid rock in Rollingwood, I moved into a 40's cottage in the North Loop area spring 2007. The little postage stamp yard is black clay and no one had ever dug a single flower bed. After visiting Key West a few years ago, I came back inspired by the little frame cottages, white painted railings, and rustling palm leaves. So the plan is: desert tropical cottage garden.