Design & Plant Pioneers: Peckerwood & Romantic Courtyard

So, we think our garden is done? Oh, never, since someone is always out there tantalizing us with something new. I’ve been lucky to meet many horticulturists, including Austin’s own Art Petley, who introduced Salvia ‘Silke’s Dream’, a hybrid of Salvia darcyi x Salvia microphylla.
Salvia Silke's Dream Central Texas Gardener
He gave a cutting to an Austin grower who passed it along to Scott Ogden who shared it with Plant Delights. Now you can buy it online and in nurseries.

Horticulturist Greg Grant discovered ‘Henry Duelberg’ salvia in a cemetery and named it for the carving on the headstone.
Henry Duelberg salvia Central Texas Gardener
My beloved Agave celsii is thanks to a team, including John Fairey and Carl Shoenfeld, who voyaged to Mexico and collected seeds.
Agave celsii Central Texas Gardener
Sadly, Carl’s Yucca Do nursery is no longer around. But John Fairey’s home garden in Hempstead near Houston, Peckerwood Garden, continues his horticultural voyage and decades-long testing and evaluation.
John Fairey Peckerwood Garden
Peckerwood Garden’s Director of Horticulture Adam Black joins Tom to explain how John Fairey’s botanical discoveries changed our plant vocabulary.
Tom Spencer and Adam Black Central Texas Gardener
Designated as a preservation garden of The Garden Conservancy, you can visit on Open Days tours and group tours to learn the heritage behind Peckerwood.
Peckerwood Garden Central Texas Gardener
Visit Peckerwood’s website to sign up for Adam’s informative newsletters, attend his Insider Tours, and to volunteer.
Peckerwood Garden tours Central Texas Gardener
Watch our visit with John Fairey and Peckerwood tour in 2010.

Daphne’s Plant of the Week, Mexican flame vine (Senecio confusus) hails from—you guessed it—Mexico! It may be evergreen in warm winters and in Zones 9 and above, but tends to be an annual in Zone 8 and colder. For sure, it fried in Austin’s coldest days in years.
Mexican flame vine Central Texas Gardener
Mexican flame vine’s such a fast grower in full sun to part shade that it’s worth re-planting after the last frost date.
Mexican flame vine yucca Salvia farinacea drought design Central Texas Gardener
Summer to fall, it clamors quickly over a trellis, cage or wire panel, like in Rasmey Mau Raymond’s garden.
vegetable garden for children Mexican flame vine Central Texas Gardener
Bees and butterflies, like migrating Monarchs and this Gulf Fritillary, truly suck up on its flaming orange flowers.
Gulf Fritillary butterfly Mexican flame vine Central Texas Gardener
This insect enjoyed a leisurely lunch!
insect on Mexican flame vine Central Texas Gardener
So, why do plants react differently some years? In 2016, Nancy and Rob Hontz got a bonanza of acorns from their live oak trees.
abundant acorns Central Texas Gardener
They laid a net to catch gallons and gallons.
net to catch acorns Central Texas Gardener
Then, to make child’s play out of random acorns and in the lawn, they snagged a Garden Weasel nut gatherer. Look familiar?
Garden Weasel nut gatherer Central Texas Gardener
Daphne explains the evolutionary connection behind a really nutty year!

Since we’re gardeners, we play a pivotal role in our trees’ future. If you want something forever (ugly), prune your trees incorrectly. To spare your crape myrtles permanent shame, Trisha demonstrates the right cuts for elegant structure and lots more summer blooms.
crape myrtle prune Central Texas Gardener
On tour in west Austin, Margie and Al McClurg never run out of memory making in their courtyard garden.
rustic table under Bradford pear arbor Central Texas Gardener
Organizing a bunch of plants into a sensual garden is both exciting and rewarding. Their co-creator, Sprout designer Jackson Broussard rendered a lovely, cohesive garden from its former randomly organized spring bloomers.
romantic shady garden design Central Texas Gardener
He gave it structural impact with evergreens like Yucca rostrata and aloes.
Yucca rostrata aloe poppies drought garden Central Texas Gardener
Mixing leaf types in massed plantings strengthens contrast while letting each star shine on its own.
Yucca larkspur perennials drought garden Central Texas Gardener
grackle sculpture whimsey drought garden art Central Texas Gardener
To get around the garden, Jackson chose 3/8” washed pea gravel from Marble Falls. Since that soil is granite-based, the tan color is less harsh than white limestone gravel.
Marble Falls gravel path perennial garden Central Texas Gardener
path to sculpture courtyard garden Jackson Broussard design Central Texas Gardener
All paths converge at a central hub, a Bradford pear arbor that shades in summer and warms in winter.
sunlight to shade under Bradford pear arbor Central Texas Gardener
enclosed Bradford pear arbor limestone planters Central Texas Gardener
Bradford pear arbor shade to gardens Central Texas Gardener
Flowering perennials and annuals for round-the-calendar nectar, pollen, and seeds guarantee pollinators and birds. Last spring, I’ve never seen so many busy bees as on Margie’s poppies!
Bees on corn poppies Central Texas Gardener
In late summer and fall, forsythia sage (Salvia madrensis) is a beehive of activity.
forsythia sage Central Texas Gardener
Butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds head for fall’s delightful combo of Salvia leucantha and Hamelia patens.
Salvia leucantha Hamelia patens Central Texas Gardener
Hummingbirds head for aloe, this one Aloe ‘Blue Elf’.
Aloe bloom Central Texas Gardener
Masses of purple-tinged persicaria sparks both shade and pollinator activity.
butterfly nectaring on persicaria Central Texas Gardener
But when you’ve got four inches of soil over rock, you need a little boost. For years, Julie Clark of Stronger Than Dirt has strengthened the McClurg’s soil with life-giving compost.
perennial pathway drought garden Central Texas Gardener
Margie’s truly my kindred spirit. She’s soulful, wise, and funny (not to say that I’m those things, just wannabe!).
“I have a whole list of things that didn’t make it. Dead, died. So we’re down to what does work,” she told us.
Margie McClurg drought tolerant courtyard Central Texas Gardener
I dearly want this Agave attenuata ‘Ray of Light’, one of her latest experiments.
Agave attenuata Ray of Light foxtail agave Central Texas Gardener
And this gorgeous salvia cultivar, if I can remember the name! Not one I’d met before.
purple salvia Central Texas Gardener
I’m also in her fan club for her skill with color explosions like Japanese maple and orange container on the other side of the courtyard wall.
Japanese maple and orange container Central Texas Gardener
Watch now! You’ll love it!

Thanks for stopping by and see you next week! Linda