Established by John Fairey in 1971, The John Fairey Garden (formerly Peckerwood Garden) is an extraordinary preservation garden on 39 acres near Hempstead, Texas. The garden is widely acclaimed for the originality of its design, its education and conservation programs, and its exceptional collection of over 3,000 plants, including many endangered and rare plants from Mexico, North America, and Asia. The Garden is open for members to tour on their own on Saturdays from 9-3. Docent-led group tours are offered on Open Days (see calendar), private tours are available to groups of five or more by appointment. We look forward to seeing you at the garden!

Seasonal Highlights

Sabal uresana
Brahea mooreii


Sabal uresana & Brahea moorei

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.

yucca linearifolia
agave sp. mr. ripple
nolina nelsonii
dasylirion, yucca rostrata

Woody Lilies

yucca linearifolia, agave sp. mr. ripple, nolina nelsonii, dasylirion and yucca rostrata
In the garden, as in the wild, woody lilies may be found growing in the shade of pines, hickories and oaks, or solitary in full sun. Yet here, John carefully selected the location of these plants. Smaller agaves, such as Agave ferdinandi-regis, line the paths providing low spiny texture. Behind them larger grassy dasylirion add a gentler texture. A third vertical layer of nolina, yucca and columnar cactus arises and is juxtaposed with an important garden architectural feature, such as the Blue Wall or the corrugated aluminum garage or house. Between these solitary long lived plants may be found, as also in the wild, rocky, gravelly soil, in this case pea gravel and bull rock.
Mahonia gracilis
Mahonia x lindsayi ‘Cantab’
Mahonia pallida
10193 berberischochoco 2014-dec (2)


The spiny dark evergreen leaves of Asian mahonias add texture to the woodland garden, while the tall leggy trunks and branches add form. Bright yellow flowers on spiraling racemes in winter, followed by dark bluish-black berries in mid-summer, attract pollinators and birds. But one of the true gems of the garden is a Mexican mahonia that John Fairey so fondly called the curly leaf chochoco because its small glossy bright green leaves have undulating leaf margins that provide quite a spectacle as they flutter in the wind. Whether allowed to grow as a rounded shrub or trained on an espalier, its yellow winter blooms provide dramatic winter color similar to its Asian counterparts.

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