John Fairey believed that silver and blue-green colors have a cooling effect as the plants shimmer in the wind. This is certainly true of many palms in the garden. Set high atop the Rain Lily Berm, the Sabal uresana probably have the most dramatic effect on visitors as they glimpse the deeply shadowed silvery blue-green leaves and hear the rustling of the fibrous leaves in the wind. The sound has been likened to the dull burbling and rippling of water in a stream. These palms didn’t escape our winter freeze totally unscathed but they are rebounding nicely. Set throughout the Garden, our Brahea moorei palms, collected in the montane forests of eastern Mexico, display dramatic golden inflorescences and leaves with silver underside. As visitors walk the winding paths through pine and oak, camellia and mahonia, evergreen palms with a tropical flair wave their silvery blue leaves. The Brahea moorei palms, likewise, were affected by the extreme low temperatures of this winter’s storm but they are slowly making a comeback.
For a garden that has a timeless feel, it is entirely appropriate for it have a large number of Cycads, a group of plants whose lineage may be traced to the Jurassic Period. Unfortunately, almost every cycad in the wild is threatened in its native range, lending importance to the conservation efforts at The John Fairey Garden. Many resemble palms, such as the sago palms and dioons, and prefer the dry garden environment. Others, such as Ceratozamia and Zamia, prefer some shade and regular water. Zamia integrifolia, or coontie, is ubiquitous in the garden and is the only cycad native to the United States. Glossy green foliage, very attractive pinnate leaves and amazing seed cones make the coontie a real attraction to visitors.