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Insider Tour – Shrubs and Small Trees for Difficult Spaces

Frequently visitors come to The John Fairey Garden seeking landscape and plant ideas for their own gardens, but many of their gardens are usually fully planted except for those impossible areas. You know them: small spots where irrigation misses; full shade in winter, full sun in summer; the hell strip between the sidewalk and the street; the rainy day bog, dry weather brick. On this Insiders Tour you’ll encounter the non-spiny non-prickly plants than can make landscaping these areas a little easier.

Juniperus virginiana ‘Glauca Compacta’ – Eventually 5 ft. x 5 ft. Small, soft and blue.
Dalea greggii – Dry. Mostly evergreen. Almost year round flowering. Silvery blue color.
Conradina canescens – Florida scrub mint for well-drained dry spaces. Full sun.
Forestiera angustifolia ‘Pendula’ – Swamp Privet. Native to Central and South Texas. Dry or boggy. Trim as you like.
Amyris texensis – Torchwood. Texas native. Full sun or shade. Any well-drained soil. Dry.
Yucca linearifolia – An exciting find on one of the Mexico expeditions. It’s basically a Yucca rostrata dwarf.
Fraxinus greggii – Mexico and Texas. Very drought tolerant small ash tree.
Leucophyllum zygophyllum (or other compact forms) – Beautiful purple bloomers. Very drought tolerant.
Melochia tometosa – Tea Wood. Full sun. Dry. Beautiful pink flowers summer and fall.
Mimosa dysocarpa – Texas native shrub with fuzzy pink blooms. Drought tolerant.
Aesculus pavia var. flavescens – The smaller yellow-flowered buckeye from the Texas Hill Country. Blooming NOW!
Anisacanthus puberulus – Texas native. Beautiful pink flower. Very drought tolerant.
Freesia laxa – Painted Flower, South Africa. Beautiful little wild flower. A bulb that is very drought tolerant. For shade.
Ophiopogon jaburan – Giant Mondo Grass. The gigantic species related to the shade loving drought tolerant Monkey Grass.
Roldana aschenborniana – Stunning Mexican yellow wildflower. Evergreen shrub to about 6 ft. No reseed; no rhizomes. Blooming now!
Agave bracteosa – Squid Agave for SHADE. It can handle full sun too. Dry. Mostly unarmed.
Pavonia lasiopetala – Rock Rose. Collected in Mexico. Full sun. Dry. Deep pink.
Neobuxbaumia polylopha – Non branching columnar cactus to tuck away in a sunny dry well-drained nook.
Drimiopsis maculata – Drought and shade loving bulb with spots!
Bletilla striata – Very drought tolerant bromeliade for shade. Incredible flower! Blooming now.
Polygonella americana – The wonder plant! Small xeric shrub that looks like a juniper at first glance until it blooms like a cotton ball!

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Insider Tour – IUCN Listed Species

One of Peckerwood’s primary missions is to serve as a habitat for plants which are in serious decline in their native regions. Additionally, our goal is to propagate these plants and extend them into the hands of other botanical gardens and those of ordinary gardeners. For example, Glyptostrobus pensilis, one of the newest additions to the garden, is a critically endangered tree native to China and Vietnam whose population consists of less than 250 mature trees. Another example, is Agave nickelsiae which suffers from a host of threats in Mexico and which enjoys no protected range. During this insider tour, we will explore just a few of the approximately seventy species which are protected at Peckerwood Garden. This tour will extensively cite the IUCN (International Union of Conservationists of Nature):


  • NE Not evaluated
  • DD Data Deficient
  • LC Least Concern
  • NT Near Threatened
  • VU Vulnerable
  • EN Endangered
  • CR Critically Endangered
  • Extinct in the Wild
  • EX Extinct

The Threats

Such as logging and collection

Threat Prevention Actions

In-place research and monitoring Action Recovery Plan
Systematic monitoring scheme
In-place land/water protection Conservation sites identified
Area based regional management plan
Occurs in at least one protected area
Invasive species control or prevention
In-place species management Harvest management plan
Successfully reintroduced or introduced benignly
Subject to ex-situ conservation

EN Magnolia tamaulipana – Mexico. Farming, development. Small number of locations. “There are no conservation actions in place for Magnolia tamaulipana. It is not cultivated in Mexico but exists in one ex situ collection.”
VU Cupressus chengiana – Two provinces in China. Logging. Ex situ. Few efforts.
NT Platycladus orientalis ‘Blue Cone’ – Native to northwestern CHina threatened by logging. No significant conservation efforts there but it has naturalized in many other places and cultivated around the world.
VU Sabal uresana – Foothills of the Sierra Madre Occidental in northwestern Mexico. Habitat loss, logging. No efforts.
CR Parodia herteri – (Brazil) Current effort: Protected area, international controls. Threat: logging, farming, collection
VU Echinopsis terscheckii – Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador. Collection. Protected, controls.
CR Agave nickelsiae – No current efforts. Threat: collection, roads, development.
EN Ferocactus haematacanthus – (Mexico/Texas. 2400) Current effort: ex situ, protection, controls. Threat: non-timber (candy)
EN Sabal bermudana – (Bermuda) Development. Invasive species competition such as with Chinese fan palm.
NT Dioon edule – 141,000 Mexico. Collection, development. Protection, controls.
NT Zamia floridana (Integrifolia) – 30,000 mature. Florida. Development, collection. Ex situ, protected, controls.
CR Zamia vasquezii – (Mexico, ~50 mature) Current effort: International controls. Threat: logging, collection
EN Cycas taitungensis – Eastern Taiwan. Collection, invasive species: Aulacaspis scale.
VU Neobuxbaumia polylopha – Central Mexico. Development and recreation. Protected, controls.
EN Echinocactus grusonii – (central Mexico. 11,000) Current effort: ex situ, international controls. Threat: collection, dam.
VU Sinojackia xylocarpa – Jiangsu province, China. Habitat loss, logging, firewood. No conservation.
VU Cycas panzhihuaensis – Dry-hot valley of the Jinsha River basin in Sichuan and Yunnan provinces in southwest China. Mining, logging, collection, fragile ecosystem. Protected, controls, ex situ.
EN Ceratozamia hildae – 500-1000 mature in the wild Mexico. Entire range protected. “native to the Huasteca Potosina of Querétaro and San Luis Potosí”
EN Taxus wallichiana – Current effort: protected, ex situ, trade controls, recovery plan. Threat: non-timber related, logging, firewood, drug precursor.
CR Ceratozamia kuesteriana – (Mexico, ~300 mature) Current effort: protected over entire range. Threat: collection.
CR Torreya taxifolia – (Florida. 999 mature). Current effort: monitoring, protection, ex situ, education. Threat: invasive species
VU Magnolia cylindrica China. Logging and collection. Ex situ.
VU Podocarpus matudae – 11-12 locations in Mexico and Central America. Logging.
VU Ceratozamia microstrobila – 5000-15000 in Sierra Madre Oriental of San Luis Potosí State, and the very southern portion of Tamaulipas, Mexico. Habitat loss. No efforts.
CR Acer skutchii – Current effort: ex situ, protected area. Threat: farming, logging, fire suppression, climate change.
EN Magnolia lotungensis 2499. China. Logging and nontimber crops. Ex situ.
CR Glyptostrobus pensilis – (China/Vietname. Swampy lowlands. 25 m. ) Current effort: ex situ only. Threat: logging, dams, firewood. 100-250 remain.
CR Araucaria angustifolia – Current effort: ex-situ, protected area, harvest management. Threat: farming, logging, collecting
EN Keteleeria davidiana var. formosana – Few locations in northwest Taiwan. Farming, development, poor regeneration possibly cause by researcher collection
Physostegia correllii – Not listed in IUCN. Known to only a few sites in Travis Co, Texas and Louisiana. Native also to Mexico.

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Insider Tour – Oaks

There are approximately 600 extant oak species, of which 160 are native to Mexico (109 endemic), 90 to the US, 40 to Texas and 100 to China. Because of its diversity, Mexico was considered, until recently, by many scientists to be the center of worldwide distribution of oaks; however, based on a large sample of herbarium specimens and fossils, using both physical and genetic observations, the current thinking is that oaks originated at the higher altitudes of northern Canada and migrated first to the western and eastern US and Europe, then, later, from the US to Mexico and from Europe to Asia. In Mexico, the oaks commenced rapid speciation (which is ongoing today) due to the large number of geographic zones separated by dramatic temperature or moisture gradients.

Quercus laeta –
Quercus mexicana –
Casimiroa pringlei – Not an oak. Rutaceae.
Quercus rysophylla – Native to the mid to lower elevations of northeastern Mexico. Stiff rough ovate to lanceolate dark green leaves. To 80 feet. Evergreen to semi-deciduous in our area, Sometimes marcescent. Cold and drought tolerant. Steeply draining soil is recommended. Better in full sun.
Quercus emoryi – One of only two oaks theorized to have returned north from Mexico to the US. Native to dry foothills and canyons of west Texas to Arizona and Mexico. Often growing with Q. oblongifolia. Black furrowed bark, glossy green leaves. Red acorn with a yellow cap. 30 to 60 feet. Evergeen. Rounded crown. Requires extremely well-drained soil. Requires full sun.
Quercus polymorpha – Variable leaves (hence the name), usually simple, elliptic to obtuse. Shaggy brown bark, more furrowed with age. Native to Val Verde, Texas (where surveyors of the Texas Nature Conservancy found it growing on their property) to Mexico and Guatemala. Mostly evergreen. Cold hardy. Drought tolerant. Steep drainage. Sun to part shade.
Quercus sartorii (xalapensis) – Native to northeatern Mexico.
Quercus aff. opaca – Native to northeastern Mexico. Closely related to pringlei.
Castanopsis cuspidata – Native to Japan and souther Korea. Home to the shiitake mushroom which means castanopsis mushroom.
Quercus crassifolia – Leathery leaf. New growth adaxially bright red, abaxially white. Mature leaf is olive green adaxially, orange abaxially.
Quercus sp. dwarf – Collected in northeastern Mexico. The parent plants were nothing more than small shrubs. These are much larger, possibly due to animal grazing in their habitat.
Quercus tarahumara – Native to the Sierra Madre. Very large leaves.
Quercus fusiformis –
Quercus vaseyana complex –
Quercus intricata – Reproduces vegetatively forming large colonies on open chaparral scrubland. Native to Texas – only two places, critically endangered here – and Mexico where it is abundant.
Quercus phillyraeoides – Nice evergreen oak. To about 60 ft. but often used as a large shrub. Multitrunked.
Quercus glauca –
Quercus dentata – Lanky reaching habit.
Quercus polymorpha (Val Verde) –
Quercus laeta –
Quercus aliena – To 80 ft. Native to Japan, Korea and central China.
Quercus sartorii –
Lithocarpus edulis (green) –
Quercus glauca –
Quercus sinuata – Native to this area of Texas.
Quercus texana –
Quercus alba –
Lithocarpus edulis (variegated) –
Quercus rhysophylla –
Quercus acutissima –
Quercus michauxii – Tolerates flooding. Beautiful large leaf.
Castanopsis sclerophylla – Probably one of the most beautiful of the oak flowers.
Quercus x warei – A cross between Quercus rober ‘Fastigiata’ and Quercus bicolor. Patented.
Quercus crassipes – Another Mexican oak, Hidalgo south to Chiapas. To 60 ft.
Quercus muehlenbergii –
Quercus alba –
Quercus schottkyana –
Quercus coccinea – Bright red fall foliage.
Quercus crassifolia –
Quercus glauca –
Quercus crassipes –
Quercus oblongifolia – Native to upper grasslands of southwest and Mexico.
Quercus greggii – Native to northeastern Mexico. To about 30 ft. but can be a shrub at high elevations.
Quercus dentata ‘Carl Ferris Miller’ – A full crown as opposed to dentata.
Quercus corrugata – Northeastern Mexico to Central America. Very large tree to 150 ft. Chocolate new growth.
Quercus lyrata –
Quercus acutissima – Note bright foliage.
Quercus marylandica –
Quercus falcata –
Quercus insignis – Large acorn. Wine-colored new growth. Native to Veracruz, Mexico.
Quercus afares – Algeria/Tunisia. Grows with q. suber. Bark is corky.
Quercus canariensis – Southern Spain to Morrocco/Tunisia. To 90 ft. Deciduous based on winter temperature.
Quercus buckleyi –
Quercus gravesii – Chisos Red Oak. Texas and Mexico at higher elevations. To 45 ft. Showy fall color red and gold south of Dallas.
Quercus affinis – Northeastern Mexico.

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Insider Tour – North Dry Garden

Insider Tour: North Dry Garden & Palm and Magnolia Circle

The area north of Dry Creek is home to some of the oldest plants in the garden since it is part of the original purchase. Here you’ll find a wide selection of magnolias, conifers, succulents and mahonias — many collected during trips to northeastern Mexico. Almost as interesting as the plants are the circuitous paths, the Blue Wall and other landscape features, such as steel step risers and lumber edging. Once a very sunny garden, now the area north of the creek is much shaded by pines, a Mexican oak, sweet gum and maples, which provides a challenge to the many succulents that reside below. Much of the ground is covered by Brazos pea gravel and river rock which evokes a heightened sensation of being in a non-traditional garden.

Araucaria angustifolia – Parana pine – most adaptable relative of true monkey puzzle and Norfolk pine.
Cryptomeria japonica – Japanese Cedar
Magnolia kwangtungensis – Chinese magnolia with beautiful rusty hairs on new leaves and pendulous flowers.
Ginkgo biloba
Magnolia grandiflora ‘Variegata’ – Variegated Southern Magnolia – mostly reverted to green
Clethra pringlei – Mexican Summesweet – John Fairey Mexican collection
Podocarpus matudae – Mexican Podocarpus – John Fairey collection from Mexico
Casimiroa pringlei – Pringle’s Sapote – small edible fruits, John Fairey introduction to cultivation. Original tree lost in 2016 floods.
Amyris texana – Texas Torchwood
Decatropis bicolor – John Fairey collection – citrus family but no edible fruit, just ornamental foliage/flowers
Yucca treculeana var. canaliculata – Imposing giant form of this species
Mahonia pallida – Mexican Pale Mahonia
Mahonia x media – Asian hyrid Mahonia
Clematis pitcheri – wide ranging and variable, most Texas plants are dark purple, this Mexican collection is light purple
Brahea moorei – Dwarf Rock Palm – One of John’s favorite palms, good planted in groups.
Chamaedorea radicalis – good hardy palm for shade
Torreya taxifolia – One of the rarest conifers in the word, from one small area in Florida, threatened by disease.
Torreya grandis – Chinese counterpart to our two US native Torreya species (FL and CA).
Cephalotaxus fortunei – Fortune’s Plum Yew
Magnolia biondii – Deciduous magnolia
Philadelphus sp. – a small leaved Mock Orange from Mexico.
Eryngium venustum – spiny leaved carrot relative that John collected in Mexico
Macrozamia sp. – Australian cycads
Zamia vasquezii – Mexican cycad
Cycas panzihuaensis – Chinese cycad
Agave bracteosa – Squid Agave
Roldana aschenbornianus – Mexican flowering shrub covered in yellow flowers in spring.
Illicium anisatum ‘Murasaki-no-sato’ (Purple Glaze Anise) – new growth purple, fades to green with light green variegation.
Dioon edule regional forms – Mexican cycads
Berberis lycium – very important in Chinese medicine, has proven to have numerous beneficial properties
Bouvardia ternifolia – Mexican collection – hummingbird magnet
Amorphophallus paeoniifolius – one of the “corpse flowers”
Quercus rysophylla – Loquat leaved oak – one of the largest individuals in the country
Justicia fulvicoma – Orange Shrimp Plant
Zamia pumila – Dominican Republic
Clethra pringlei – as seen earlier, but a huge specimen
Mahonia chochoca – Mexican collection with nice tree form, yellow winter flowers
Nolina nelsonii – original wild collections.
Mahonia sp. – new species discovered by John Fairey
Agave striata
Mahonia chochoca – Curly leaf form
Magnolia martinii – view from afar of the upright (fastigiated) form
Keteleeria davidiana – great heat tolerant conifer
Puya species – several species and hybrids in this area – some have jade green to aquamarine blue flowers
Brahea species – several unknown species – a very poorly studied genus
Neobuxbaumia polylopha – columnar cactus with reasonable humidity tolerance
Hechtia sp. – a giant xeric bromeliad collected in Puerto Purification, Mexico
Trithrinax campestris – Argentine Silver Thatch Palm
Sabal uresana – Sonoran Blue Palm
Magnolia tripetala x macrophylla – hybrid native deciduous bigleaf magnolia
Pinus pseudostrobus – Mexican smoothbark weeping pine
Liquidambar styraciflua – Mexican version of our native eastern US sweetgum
Liquidambar acalycina – Chinese Sweetgum
Liquidambar styraciflua ‘Rotundiloba’ – Interesting selection with round leaf lobe tips
Magnolia ashei – Rare localized species in FL
Taiwania cryptomerioides – beautiful heat/humidity tolerant conifer from Taiwan
Parrotia persica – deciduous tree with great peeling bark patterns, good yellow fall color
Exbucklandia populnea – Malayan Aspen – not a true aspen, but in the witch hazel family
Abies firma – Momi Fir – Japanese subtropical fir – takes heat/humidity
Carex socialis ‘Coahoma’ – beautiful native sedge for shade to partial sun
Cinnamomum chekiangense – hardy cinnamon
Magnolia officinalis var. biloba – notch-leaved magnolia
Machilus thunbergii – beautiful evergreen dense shrub
Magnolia laevifolius – small-leaved species, often sold under the old names M. dianica or M. yunnanensis
Magnolia grandiflora ‘DD Blanchard’
Keteleeria evelyniana
Cunninghamia unicanaliculata – long leaved “china fir”
Magnolia grandiflora ‘Emory’ – very tight columnar form
Magnolia insignis – famous for being a red flowering evergreen species

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Insider Tour – Palms

Introduction – Palms are a diverse (approximately 2500 species) family (Arecaceae) of flowering plants (angiosperms) which start as a single-root producing seed (monocot) that eventually produces a trunk (stem) from which are produced leaves or flowers and fruit (drupe). Unless otherwise noted, palms mostly propagate by seed. Typical of monocots, palms have heavily branched root systems (adventitious), scattered trunk vascular bundles (atactostele as opposed to dicot cambium) and leaf parallel veining. Not typical of monocots though, palms have secondary trunk growth of parenchyma and lignin or fiber depositing cells that allows them to achieve massive size. The wood is so tough that in parts of the world where palms are common, salt water piers are made of palm logs. Further to the point, during the Revolutionary War, Sabal palmetto logs were used to build a fort on Sullivan Island to defend Charleston. Rather than shattering under heavy British cannon fire, the palm logs deflected the cannonballs and gave the Americans time to accurately set their cannon sights to inflict maximum damage. The British left without taking Charleston that time. Hence, South Carolina has a large Sabal palmetto in the center of its flag.

Unfortunately, living palms are usually not quite so tough. Most species grow only in the tropics, wilting below 50 F. Most species also need tropical humidity. Luckily, there are cold tolerant xeric and mesic palms, a few of which can be found at The John Fairey Garden. The Achilles heel of the palm is its meristem. Located near the tip of the stem, the meristem is a group of cells in which plant growth occurs. Should this meristem be damaged by fungus, lightning or cold (or very likely a combination), that palm stem will die, especially during drought-related stress. In the case of solitary palms, that means death of the entire plant. Palms also suffer from several fungal diseases, such as ganoderma which rots the trunk from the inside out.

Palms come in many different shapes and sizes. Some small (e.g. Chamaedorea radicalis), while some are extremely large (Sabal causiarum). Palm trunks may take several forms: solitary (butia), clustering (Serenoa repens), aerial branching, subterranean (acaulescent) or climbing – or a combination (Nannorrhops ritchieana). The trunk surface may be smooth or rough and may be totally or partially covered by leaf bases. Leaf bases may fall off the trunk (absciss) of their own accord or may be held for very prolonged periods. Leaf bases may be split (sabals) and/or crossed (Sabal palmetto and S. mexicana) or may be straight (brahea). A fibrous tomentum left from old leaf sheaths (bases) may hang about the trunk (Trachycarpus fortunei), or a tomentum may grow out of the trunk like cotton candy (N. ritchieana). The petioles may be long or short and may (butia) or may not (sabals) have teeth. Inflorescence lengths vary along with the color of the flowers (usually off-white or yellow) and the fruit (usually green, turning yellow, possibly then brown or black). Flowers may be dioecious (phoenix), monoecious (sabal) or hermaphrodite (Trithrinax campestris) – or a combination (T. fortunei). Palm leaves are extremely variable, though most are either fan-shaped (palmate) (Sabal tamaulipana) or feather-like (pinnate) (P. canariensis).

Despite that palms are apparently like cycads, such as (Cycas revoluta, or sago), the two groups are completely unrelated. Cycads are gymnosperms which of course means they reproduce using cones, not flowers as with palms. Cycad trunks (stems) contain meristem throughout such that only a piece is needed for propagation. Cycads have fleshy tap-like and secondary roots that extend in all directions. They have coralloidal roots near the surface that fix nitrogen and other nutrients. Another difference is that all parts of the cycad are deadly toxic, while the palm fruit or seed is usually nontoxic. Despite toxicity, cycads are a source of food mainly as flour from processed seeds (e.g. arrowroot from Zamia floridana, coontie). Yet the economic benefit is limited. On the other hand, the economic benefit from palms is substantial. Fruits (Butia capitata), dates (Phoenix dactylifera), and seeds (Cocos nucifera) are a huge source of food around the globe. Palm leaves are used extensively for thatching and clothing; coconut husk is a common soil amendment.

The Garden – The palm collection at The John Fairey Garden is quite diverse both regionally and taxonomically. They are both very cold hardy and either xeric or dry-side mesic. They are planted in every section of the garden and throughout the undeveloped property where they depend solely on rainfall. The conservation status of palms at The John Fairey Garden either has not been assessed or is of least concern unless otherwise noted.

Phoenix canariensis: Dioecious. Endemic Canary I. To 120 ft. Sun. Zone 9. Black thin edible date.
Sabal mexicana: Critically endangered in the US. Monoecious. TX-MX-C.A. 50 ft. Zone 8. Edible black fruit. Xeric. The last native groves of Texas palmetto are in the Audubon Sabal Palm Grove Sanctuary in Cameron County.
Sabal minor: Monoecious. NC-TX. Partial sun/light shade. Moist. 5 ft. Acaulescent with below ground 5 ft. trunk. Zone 8. Short midrib. Small black fruit.
Butia odorata: Monoecious. Dry savannah S.A. Dry 15 ft. Sun/PS. Zone 8. Yellow edible fruit. Xeric.
Butia capitata: Monoecious. Dry savannah S.A. 20 ft. Sun/PS. Zone 8. Yellow edible fruit. Xeric.
Sabal uresana: Vuln. Monoecious. Endemic S. M. Occ. MX. in thorn forests and dry oak watercourses. 30 ft. Zone 8.
Brahea dulcis: Monoecious. Tex-Mex. 15 ft. Solitary, occasionally suckering. Slow growth. Xeric only. Zone 8.
Brahea decumbens x ?: Monoecious. Sierra Madre, MX. 3×10 ft. Sun. Cluster. Zone 8b. Very slow. Green to blue Xeric only.
x Butyagrus nabonnandii: Intergeneric Butia capitata x Syagrus romanzoffiana. Sterile: mule palm. 30 ft. Zone 8b.
Trithrinax campestris: Hermaphrodite. Savannah and upper elevations AR-UR. 12 ft. Slow. Xeric. Zone 8.
Nannorrhops ritchieana: Dioecious. YM-AF, elev. to 5000 ft. Sun. Zone 8. 20 ft. Aerial branch. Xeric. Usually, hapaxanthic. Arguably monotypic.
Sabal causiarum: Monoecious. Puerto Rico & Carib. 50 ft. Sun. Zone 8. Slow. Black fruit. To 4 ft. smooth gray trunk.
Sabal minor ‘Louisiana’: Caulescent form of S. minor possibly due to growth required to stay above deposited then subsided river soil. 12 ft. Slow. Zone 8 or better.
Sabal ‘Birmingham’: Origin unknown. 15-30 ft. Sun/PS. Slow. Zone 7.
Sabal bermudana: Endangered. Endemic Bermuda. 80 ft. Salt tolerant. Zone 8b. Fast.
Sabal tamaulipana: Monoecious. N.E. MX, elev. 1500 ft. 8 ft. Leaves 6ft. Yucca Do 1988. Zone 7b.
Brahea moorei: Monoecious. Endemic MX, S.M. Orient. Mid-high elev. Zone 8. 4 ft. Extremely slow. Solitary. Acaulescent. Purple fruit. Xeric. Silver abaxial.
Serenoa repens: Monoecious. TX-SC, every county in FL. 10 ft. Clustering, running, branching. Zone 8. Full sun to PS. Slow. Blue or blue-gray. Propagate by seed/rhizome/division. Xeric. Salt tolerance. Tough! Wildlife food. Sereno Watson. Monotypic.
Trachycarpus fortunei: Dioecious-Hermaphrodite. China-Japan. 20-50 ft. Zone 7. Fast. Part sun.
Chamaedorea radicalis: Dioecious. Tropical MX. Solitary. 4 ft. Very slow. Pinnate. Orange to red showy toxic fruit on young plants. Shade-PS. Dry mesic once est. Zone 8-11.
Livistona chinensis: Possibly invasive. Hermaphrodite. JA-TA-SCS. Solitary. 30 ft. Medium. Prodigious black fruit. Sun/part shade. Dry mesic, deep tap root. Zone 8b.
Rhapidophyllum hystrix: Dioecious, occas. herm. MS-SC. 6×8 ft. Sucker. Acaulescent. Spines at the base. Light shade. Zone 6. Propagate by seed/division. Mesic. Monotypic.
Guihaia argyrata: Dioecious. S. China/Viet. Cluster. 4 ft. Zone 8b. Shade/PS. Silver abaxial. Edible black fruit. Slow.
Chamaedorea microspadix: Dioecious. E. MX. Clustering. 8 ft. Pinnate. Zone 8. Shade. Orange/red toxic fruit.
Sabal x brazoriensis: Rare. S. minor x palmetto. Monoecious. Brazoria Co., TX. 20 ft. Zone 7b. Visit them in the Palm Unit of San Bernard National Wildlife Refuge.
Brahea armata (across the creek): Monoecious. Baja, CA – NW. MX. Zone 8. Blue leaves. Sun/PS. Very long golden spadix. Moisture during dry periods.
Trithrinax acanthacoma: Hermaphrodite. SA savannah. Solitary wrapped in fibrous needled leaf bases. 20 ft. Forked spiked leaves. White/pale green fruit. Sun. Zone 8.
Brahea sp.:
Chamaerops humilis var. argentea: Usually dioecious. Morocco. Zone 7b. 12×15 ft. Silver leaf. Sun. Mid-elev. Xeric. Monotypic.

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Insider Tour – Early Winter Interest

Early Winter Interest Plants (Dec-Jan)

Prunus mume (Flowering Apricot)
• ‘Contorta’ – earliest flowering – around Christmas/early Jan –white with contorted branches
• ‘Pink Panther’ – double flower – mid-Jan
• Unknown white single –mid-Jan
Mahonia (Asian species and hybrids)
• Mahonia x media (many named but very similar cultivars
• Mahonia x lindsayae ‘Cantab’ – distinctive in that the leaves and inflorescences are weeping
• Various garden seedlings (hybrids)
Mahonia (Mexican species)
• Mahonia chochoca
• Mahonia sp. (soon to be named M. peckerwoodensis – north of creek)
Ilex (Hollies)
• Ilex x ‘Cherry Bomb’
• Ilex vomitoria ‘Saratoga Gold’
• Ilex intermedia (currently mislabeled I. purpurea)
• Ilex decidua (including ‘Finch’s Golden’)
• Ilex x ‘Miss Patricia’
• Various hybrids
Chiococca alba – white fruits if not subjected to hard freeze
Magnolia species and hybrids (a few starting to flower early/mid January)

Camellia sasanqua – various cultivars (fall – early winter flowering
Camellia japonica – various cultivars (winter-spring flowering)
Cephalotaxus harringtoniana ‘Korean Gold’
Acer oliverianum var. formosanum – red fall color late Dec to Feb depending on conditioning
Acer skutchii – Mexican Sugar Maple – yellow to orange foliage Jan to Feb
Acer palmatum – Red to yellow December – January
Acer discolor – orange late December to January
Lindera angustifolia – Yellow foliage turns a clean copper color (dead but still ornamental), retained on tree
Lindera glauca – similar to L. angustifolia, but leaves shorter
Diospyros palmeri – holds pepper-like persimmons through winter
Chionanthus retusus – yellow fall color Dec-Jan, dropping to reveal nice branching architecture
Taxodium ascendens – after leaves drop long pendant clusters of male cones persist, hanging from branch tips
Rohdea japonica – evergreen groundcover with showy red winter fruits
Ruscus aculeatus (self-fruiting variety) best fruit set in winter, but can have fruits other times of year.
Loropetalum cv’s – pink flowers Jan-March
Euonymus myrianthus – showy yellow fruits split open to reveal red seeds
Pyrus kawakamii – flowering mid Jan (2017). Rare species of pear from Taiwan, not edible
Ulmus alata ‘Lace Parasol’ – when leafless the contorted, weeping branches are shown off best.

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Sixth Annual Taking Root Luncheon a Success, 2019

6th Annual Taking Root luncheon

Our sixth annual Taking Root luncheon, held last month at the Junior League in Houston, was another success. I hope you were one of the lucky guests who got to hear Tony Avent speak at the luncheon. If you didn’t, you missed a dynamic and entertaining presentation in which Tony made a very compelling argument for the importance of supporting Peckerwood Garden, noting that many of the plants at the garden either no longer exist in the wild or are not easily accessible in dangerous or remote areas.
Here I quote Tony: “John Fairey’s Peckerwood Garden houses one of the most important ex-situ plant collections of Mexican germplasm in the US, representing over 30 years and over 100 botanizing expeditions into Northern Mexico.” We’ll share more of Tony’s advocacy for the garden next month in our year-end ask. His enthusiasm for the garden and its horticultural significance is gratifying and inspires us to do all we can to conserve the garden and John Fairey’s vision.

Like Tony Avent, Panayoti Kelaidis, Senior Curator and Director of Outreach, Denver Botanic Garden and our most recent Saturday morning speaker, praised Peckerwood Garden for its rare depth of scientific and botanical value, and noted that ‘today the “Peckerwood style” has permeated gardens across the Continental United States and beyond.’

We hope you’ll visit the garden soon to see for yourselves what Tony and Panayoti are talking about. Your next chance will be our Insider’s Tour on Saturday, December 7th at 10 am where you can experience the garden in all its autumnal splendor. We hope to see you there.

— Randy Twaddle, President

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Insider Tour – Conifers

Conifer – Member of coniferales order. Cone bearing, needle or scale-like leaves, resinous sap, wind pollinated
Tour themes: Effects of lighting on tree form. Heat tolerance. Leaf shape and rigidity. Soil preference.
Juniperus virginiana ‘Glauca Compacta’. Dioecious
Taxodium mucronatum (Montezuma Cypress) – Female cones smaller, disjoint range (disagreement), evenly distributed stoma, knees rare, drops branches in dry periods. Monoecious
Cupressus lusitanica – Central Mexico down to El Salvador. Mixed conifer, oak, clethra forests with ericaceous and theaceous shrub. On cliffs with steep drainage. Monoecious
Cupressus funebris – Vietnam, S. China
Juniperus flaccida – Central Mexico to Big Bend, Texas. Smaller tree, female.
Pinus sp. ‘Weeping’ – Ted Doreumus, 2015. Monoecious
Pinus taeda ‘J. C. Raulston’ – Ted Doremus, 2007
Taxodium ascendans ‘Prairie Sentinel’
Taxodium distichum ‘Wooster Broom’ Incorrectly labeled dwarf 5’ x 5’.
Taxodium distichum ‘Peve Minaret’
Juniperus rigida ‘Pendula’ – to about 15 ft. Strongly upward young branches, then mopped down. Rigid leaves.
Cryptomeria japonica ‘Gokoryu’ Location important
Cryptomeria japonica ‘Yoshino’
Taxus chinensis – dioecious. Spirally arranged leaves with a flat base.
Abies firma – Bright green adaxial, gray-green abaxial, warm temperate to cool. Root stock.
Thujopsis dolobrata – Monotypical genus. Location and light important. Conical to shrubby. Water.
Removed Cryptomeria japonica ‘Albaspica’ – Location important, white new growth in sun.
Taxus wallichiana – Recent microbiological studies different species.
Podocarpus matudae – Variable species from Eastern Mexico to Guatemala. Water climate, high rainfall and specific microbiome.
Taxodium distichum – knees
Metasequoia glyptostroboides – Recently discovered critically endangered. Shortest redwood. Deciduous like Taxodium. Morphologically unchanged for 65 million years. Like wet climates, but can tolerate some dry weather, but maybe not Texas drought.
Pinus pseudostrobus – yellow softwood pine from central Mexico to Guatemala.
Taxus chinensis – Sparsely branched in shade.
Taxus chinensis – Shrubby and leggy in too much sun.
Cupressus arizonica var glabra ‘Raywood’s Weeping’ – could benefit from some trimming of branch tips.
Pinus taeda ‘Nana’
Araucaria angustifolia – dioecious
Cupressus funebris
Keteleeria fortunei
Keteleeria davidiana – monoecious
Keteleeria pubescens
Taxus chinensis – Densely branched in sun.