Bloodroot ( Sanguinaria canadensis ) created a carpet of white flowers in mid-February
Adam’s Notes from the Garden
Above: This photo, quite a contrast with the rest, shows conditions just a few hours north at Chandor Gardens near Fort Worth in late February.

Below: Distylum myricoides , a lesser-known member of the witch hazel family
I’m always amazed at how quickly spring ensues when you least suspect it. After a month of rather cool, mild temperatures without significant freezing since January, a four-hour trip to Weatherford for the Texas Association of Botanical Gardens and Arboreta annual meeting was a sobering reminder that winter is not over. The rainy drive north gave way to trees encased in ice just west of Fort Worth. Upon arrival at Chandor Gardens, the hosting venue, it began to sleet heavily, and thickening ice made every tree and shrub appear as if delicately sculpted out of glass. In the warm meeting room, my presentation to the attendees was interrupted by a major branch crashing down just outside, something that would become an all-too regular distraction through the following day’s presentations. After much time beautifying the garden for the event, our hosts had to helplessly watch most of the larger trees shed their branches in a most haphazard way, landing on the plantings below, while representatives of other Texas gardens spoke of their own experiences of the past year’s natural disasters. 
Following three days in the ice-entombed region, I returned home to a jarringly springlike rejuvenation at Peckerwood. The oaks are producing new leaves in glossy shades of red, pink, mahogany and purple. Deciduous magnolias are covered in blooms throughout the garden. The spreading canopies of tree-form loropetalum are cloaked in hot pink - beacons surely visible from overhead aircraft. Below the colorful overstory, bloodroot, snow poppy, epimedium and trilliums are among the ground-huggers cranking up the volume of the seasonal cacophony. In the layers between  more novelties are stirring. 
Magnolia hybrid in the north dry garden
Camellias and Mahonias are a hard to miss this time of year
As relieving as this anticipated time of year is, we always need to be prepared for tumultuous times. We are still subject to freezes into April, and Just the other day, our region received several inches of rain in a short period of time, causing our creek to flood its banks and soften the ground to a point where a large Mexican cypress (Cupressus lusitanica) toppled onto the north dry garden. Fortunately the palms, yuccas and dasylirion underneath were unharmed. The unhealthy tree had been slated for removal. 
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Peckerwood Garden is funded entirely by donation. We appreciate the support of our members, guests, donors, and friends. If you want to know more about projects at the garden, events happening, and how you can get involved please contact us.
Plant of the month: Trillium species (Toadshades and Wakerobins)
Trillium texanum , a pedicillate wakerobin, in our conservation collection.
In many cooler parts of the country, trilliums are the heralds of spring in the woodland garden, with their beautifully patterned leaves and striking flowers serving as a cheerful farewell to winter.  Many gardeners are surprised to find that we are able to grow various Trillium species in our climate. Even more surprising to them is the fact that there are several species that are native to the woodlands of east Texas. There are, in fact, quite a few other species perfectly adapted to the Gulf Coast climate with native ranges from the coastal plain of Louisiana through northern Florida. These southern species are still deemed difficult to impossible by savvy local gardeners who have tried them. However, If specific requirements are taken into consideration, they are not too difficult and can even naturalize in the woodland gardens in our region. 
Often referred to as “wakerobins” and “toadshades,” the latter common name usually refers to the mostly northern types that have flowers held on a noticeable stalk (pedicile), which in some species arches downward below the leaves, and in others holds the flowers proudly upright. Their leaves are solid green. These wakerobins are more technically known as “pedicilate” flowered species. Most of the southern species we can grow in our region are the “sessile” flowered toadshades which have a stalkless flower fixed in the center of the three leaves, with the petals held erect. Unlike the wakerobins, toadshades’ leaves are in most cases decorated with ornate mottling of various purple, silver and green tones, ornamental to the point that the foliage rivals their flowers. 
Trillium gracile , an east Texas native, growing happily here at Peckerwood
Nearly all of the options found from Texas to Florida have the same general requirements that have been learned through my own trial and error, experiences of others, and by observations made in their natural habitat. In the wild, most southern species, with a few exceptions, are always growing on moist but well-drained ravine slopes in soil that tends to be neutral to alkaline. In the garden, planting in a level garden bed, even if well-drained, usually results in the plants being unhappy, returning every year smaller and smaller and eventually disappearing. Simply building a small berm of good quality soil even 18” – 24” high can drastically improve results. Planted in the pockets of soil among a shady rock garden also can work. Though southern trilliums can handle acidic soil, they seem to do even better with annual additions of horticultural lime. I would mix this into the soil when planting, and every year I would scatter a liberal amount on the surface to be washed in. 
Though generally thought of as spring ephemerals, southern trillium species can emerge late fall or in the dead of winter. This can be as early as Thanksgiving in the north Florida species to February among the remainder of the species found along the Gulf Coast. Their emergence coincides with the increased light reaching the forest floor after the deciduous trees have dropped their leaves. In our region, they can only tolerate a few hours of direct sun in the morning, with dappled shade the remainder of the day.  
A solid purple selection of Trillium maculatum
Trillum lancifolium 'Ballerina', a Plant Delights selection with pewter foliage.
By early summer, trilliums are getting ready to die back for the season. Their foliage can look quite disheveled by May or June, but, as with most geophytes, resist the temptation to cut it back before it dries entirely to encourage a more vigorous plant the following season. As long as any green remains on the tattered foliage, it is supplying more energy to be stored in its underground rhizome. Even after the foliage disappears, occasional watering of the soil during extended dry spells is necessary. Trilliums aren’t like other geophytes (bulbs, corms, rhizomes, tubers) in that their rhizomes don’t actually go dormant. Instead, their rhizomes are growing and branching underground during the summer when no leaves are present. If the soil dries considerably during the summer, it can result in a stunted plant the following season, or a complete loss. 
Though formerly rare in mail-order nurseries, a few businesses are delving into the southern species. Tony Avent and staff at Plant Delights Nursery have been leading the way and are an excellent source for a variety of species and selections. The prices may seem steep, but when you consider that a trillium from seed takes 5-7 years in even the best nursery conditions to attain a reasonable salable, flowering size, it makes better sense. Tony has been collecting a variety of unusual variants of the species ranging from pure silver leaf forms, atypical patterning or growth habit, and unusual flower colors. It is best to stick with reputable nurseries and avoid wild-collected plants that can sometimes be found at low prices online, as these are often unethically collected from sensitive environments. 
Trilliums can be very tricky in pots long-term. If you need to keep them containerized, it is recommended to use a very open, freely draining mix, and repot in new soil annually. If not regularly repotted, the soil can break down creating a thick muddy layer around the bottom of the pots that can result in a rotting rhizome. Even in pots, they never are as vigorous as they are in a proper garden setting. 
What can be accomplished over a few decades - a huge patch of Trillium maculatum at Kanapaha Botanical Gardens in Gainesville FL.
If you are ready to be the envy of your gardening friends and try your luck with trilliums, I would recommend the following species for beginners: T. gracile (Texas native), T. underwoodii, T. maculatum, T. decipiens, T. lancifolia, T. ludovicianum, T. foetidissimum and T. oostingii. These are all the sessile-flowered toadshade types. There are few pedicillate-flowered wakerobin types suitable for our region. A couple of more northerly species reach their southern extent in the coastal plain, but plants collected specifically from these isolated, southernmost populations would be needed to succeed, and aren’t present in cultivation yet. T. texanum, a rare bog-growing species known from only a few sites in east central Texas, is a pedicillate species we are trying to conserve at Peckerwood that is not available from nurseries. Peckerwood will be offering limited numbers of several species of trilliums this spring, including T. maculatum from Florida, T. gracile from Texas, and T. foetidissimum
February and March Dates to visit Peckerwood Garden!
Peckerwood Insiders Tour
Saturday, March 3, 10 am

Join us Saturday to and visit the varied oak collection of Peckerwood Garden. New growth is emerging in all its colors. Some are blooming. This is an interesting time to visit the oaks and the tour will cover much of the garden to visit the oaks located in every area of Peckerwood Garden.
Quercus germana new growth
Mahonia gracilis with its exceptionally fragrant flowers.
Evening at Peckerwood Lecture
February 17, 5pm Refreshments and Lecture

Peckerwood has broadened its conservation mission by taking on further projects aimed at preserving imperiled species native to Texas and other southern states. We have been creating germplasm collections – snapshots of a species’ diverse genetics throughout its range, in order to have a more meaningful representation of the species backed up in cultivation. These far-reaching projects result in collaborations with other conservation-oriented institutions nationwide, and spark further research into the biology and habitats of these plants in need of our attention. Come join us as we explore the accomplishments and future goals we intend to spearhead. 

There will be a pre-lecture tour at 3:30 (pre-registration required)
March 10 Open Day
Saturday, March 10 starting at 10:00 am

March is the first month of our spring open days, The first month of the year with 2 Open Days to welcome you into the garden.

We will be open on the Second and the Fourth Saturday of March, April, and May.

Open day tours enter the garden approximately every half hour, as they fill.

Members have free entry to all Open Days, year round.
Hopefully these flowers on our Mexican sugar maple ( Acer skutchii) will translate to seeds later this year.
March Fourth Saturday Open Day
Saturday, March 24 starting at 10:00 am

Join us each 4th Saturday for Open Day and tour Peckerwood Garden with a trained, volunteer docent.
March is prime season for people to visit gardens and we have 2 Saturday Open days for you to visit Peckerwood Garden.
April Peckerwood Garden Insiders Tour
April 7, 10 am
Join us for an exploration of springtime in the collections across the creek. If you missed the last opportunity, you won't want to miss this chance to visit the section rarely open to the public.
A Magnolia blooming across the creek.
Bronze new leaves on the Mexican sugar maple ( Acer skutchii ).
May Peckerwood Garden Insiders Tour
May 5th, 10 am
Beyond Peckerwood’s excellent collections of oaks, magnolias, maples and conifers, there are additional trees unfamiliar to most gardeners yet worthy of attention. Come explore areas of the garden less-traveled as we track down the odd and the beautiful trees that stand out among our more familiar species, all while enjoying the beauty of Peckerwood in the throes of spring. 
Peckerwood’s Nursery Re-opening Soon
We are pleased to announce the upcoming re-opening of our nursery to coincide with our March 24th Open Day. Though technically open during our events, currently only a few things of interest are in the nursery. However, the varieties will be more abundant in the coming weeks as plants we have been propagating become established and ready for sale. We hope to have the nursery fully stocked by early April with many old favorites from the garden as well as new things never offered anywhere. As the year progresses, our offerings will become more diverse. 
The addition of benches to the sales are will make shopping more convenient.
Various things Craig has been propagating for eventual sale.
Thanks to generous contributions, we are back in business with excellent water quality and are pushing full steam ahead with propagation of a range of plants including succulents, perennials, shrubs and trees spanning those adapted to our region’s climate as well as collector-quality tropicals and spare specimens of species new to us that the adventurous collector can trial along with us. 
Long a familiar face as a docent at our events, Craig Jackson is handling most of the propagation and is quickly filling our mist bench with cuttings, sowing seeds, dividing plants in the garden and keeping things organized and healthy. Cherie Lee assists with propagation, repotting and significant amounts of reorganization of the nursery area. With Yucca Do Nursery’s closing this past year, nursery manager Wade Roitsch generously donated many nursery benches which now fill our sale area, but only after volunteer Frank Lee spent a considerable amount of time bracing each bench’s legs to make them sturdy enough to support an adult elephant.  
A variety of cuttings in the process of rooting on the mist bench.
A wide variety of rare oak seedlings that will soon be separated, grown and offered for sale.
Can’t make it out to the nursery this spring? We’ll be bringing a plethora of distinctive plants to Houston during the Garden Conservancy’s Houston Open Day on April 28th. After touring the four participating private gardens, visit our plant sale area where you will be able to pick from a wide variety of plants.