January 12, 2017
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.
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.
My beloved Agave celsii is thanks to a team, including John Fairey and Carl Shoenfeld, who voyaged to Mexico and collected seeds.
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.
Peckerwood Garden’s Director of Horticulture Adam Black joins Tom to explain how John Fairey’s botanical discoveries changed our plant vocabulary.
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.
Visit Peckerwood’s website to sign up for Adam’s informative newsletters, attend his Insider Tours, and to volunteer.
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’s such a fast grower in full sun to part shade that it’s worth re-planting after the last frost date.
Summer to fall, it clamors quickly over a trellis, cage or wire panel, like in Rasmey Mau Raymond’s garden.
Bees and butterflies, like migrating Monarchs and this Gulf Fritillary, truly suck up on its flaming orange flowers.
This insect enjoyed a leisurely lunch!
So, why do plants react differently some years? In 2016, Nancy and Rob Hontz got a bonanza of acorns from their live oak trees.
They laid a net to catch gallons and gallons.
Then, to make child’s play out of random acorns and in the lawn, they snagged a Garden Weasel nut gatherer. Look familiar?
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.
On tour in west Austin, Margie and Al McClurg never run out of memory making in their courtyard garden.
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.
He gave it structural impact with evergreens like Yucca rostrata and aloes.
Mixing leaf types in massed plantings strengthens contrast while letting each star shine on its own.
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.
All paths converge at a central hub, a Bradford pear arbor that shades in summer and warms in winter.
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!
In late summer and fall, forsythia sage (Salvia madrensis) is a beehive of activity.
Butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds head for fall’s delightful combo of Salvia leucantha and Hamelia patens.
Hummingbirds head for aloe, this one Aloe ‘Blue Elf’.
Masses of purple-tinged persicaria sparks both shade and pollinator activity.
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.
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.
I dearly want this Agave attenuata ‘Ray of Light’, one of her latest experiments.
And this gorgeous salvia cultivar, if I can remember the name! Not one I’d met before.
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.
Watch now! You’ll love it!
Thanks for stopping by and see you next week! Linda