• October 2018 Newsletter
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5th Annual Taking Root Luncheon
By Randy Twaddle
David Samuelson, Russell Windham, Peter Hatch
Guests hear opening remarks
Peter Hatch gave a fascinating presentation.
On behalf of the board and staff of the Peckerwood Garden Conservation Foundation, I'd like to thank all the sponsors, supporters, attendees, host committee members, our keynote speaker Peter Hatch, and especially our incredible co-chairs Vallette and Russell Windham for the success of this year's Taking Root luncheon.

Thanks to you all we met our goal of $100,000.00 (a significant percentage of our budget) and renewed our connection with the like-minded community of supporters who recognize the profound value of John Fairey's gift to us all. Whatever form your contribution took, we promise to be good stewards.  
As you'll see below, there's a lot going on this fall at the garden. We hope you'll come see us soon!
Cintia Castano and John Fairey
Peter Hatch & Adam Black
Randy Twaddle welcomes our guests
Adam’s Notes from the Garden
All summer we wished for rain, and for months it never came. Now we don’t want rain, and it won’t go away. Normally we would welcome any rain we can get, if not to simply top off our retention pond from which we draw water for our nursery. The shift from an extended dry spell to a sudden spike in ambient humidity has created optimum conditions for the proliferation of fungi and bacteria that cause unsightly foliar diseases.
There is another reason why we want the rains to stop for a while. The aging fountain wall that straddles the reflecting pool and separates the garden from John Fairey’s private courtyard finally will be rehabilitated when we get a stretch of dry weather. Multi-talented artist Jessica Rossiter has made several trips to Peckerwood only to have her efforts thwarted by the weather. When she can strip the cracked stucco and peeling terracotta-colored paint, a new color that John and Jessica are excited about will bring a different ambiance to the pool plaza and its integration into the surrounding landscape. What color will it be? Stay tuned, or come visit in a month or so…unless it is still raining.
Jessica Rossiter inspecting the aged stucco and paint on the fountain wall which she is currently rehabilitating
Prior to his excellent lecture last month at Peckerwood, Mike Shoup of the Antique Rose Emporium was reunited with a Quercus rysophylla he collected in Mexico in the late 1970's.
It’s seed collecting season, which means we’re making forays into various parts of the state with collaborators seeking species that are poorly represented in cultivation for conservation purposes. In the garden, we have a great crop of acorns on our various oaks, including a few that are producing for the first time. It is great to know that various growers are interested in the landscape potential offered by some of our Mexican oaks. The Monterrey Oak ( Quercus polymorpha) is a success story throughout Texas, but there are many more distinctively beautiful species we could plant to diversify our landscapes.
With the more hospitable temperatures of early fall, we hope everyone is back in the gardening mood and will be seeking distinctive treasures from our burgeoning nursery inventory. Craig Jackson has been tirelessly propagating from many of the garden’s specimens, providing visitors the opportunity to buy many never-before offered collector-grade rarities.
Amoureuxia wrightii
Flowers of Pink Flamingo Grass emerging.
As always, we can never have enough volunteers, and hopefully the more comfortable conditions will be encourage folks to join our regulars Brenda and Harvey on Tuesdays. We do want to welcome our newest regular volunteer, Paul Merritt, who in his newfound retirement is having fun wielding chainsaws clearing invasive chinaberries, tallow trees, Chinese privet and excess yaupon from the wooded portions of the property behind the nursery. Our burn pile has reached new heights with his efforts, and hopefully we will be able to torch it all soon…if the rain ever stops.
October and November Dates to visit Peckerwood Garden!
October 13, 10 am - 3 pm

October 27, 10 am - 3 pm

Visit and experience fall at Peckerwood Garden. We will also be open on the second and the fourth Saturday of September, October, and November.

Open day tours head into the garden approximately every half hour, as they fill. Knowledgeable docents will tell you about the garden's history, what we are doing now, and what we plan for in the future, and they will highlight plants and changes both by season and by their own taste.

10:00 am to 3:00 pm, final tour leaves at 2:00 pm.
The October 20 lecture is cancelled: please watch for the new listing of upcoming lectures soon as they move to 11 am every 3rd Saturday with a tour t 10 am.
October 27, 2 pm (tour at 1 pm)

Join us for the Class instructed by Pat Hermes, a Certified Floral Designer and director of Houston School of Flowers.

We will tour the garden and note how plants grow in nature as well as their shapes, textures and colors. We'll then use this inspiration to create natural arrangements with provided flowers and foliage.

You will learn about creating arrangements from your garden and will have yours creation to take home. Must register by Oct 17!

The tour at 1 pm is included and will introduce you to the garden and materials you will be working with.

The workshop is at 2 pm, limited space available: $35

This workshop is simultaneous to Open Day.
November 8, 6:30 pm in Houston

Join us at 6:30 p.m. November 8 for horticulturist Linda Gay's presentation, Holiday Garden Color.

Linda, perhaps best known as the former director of Mercer Botanic Gardens, also has worked at McGovern Centennial Gardens, The Arbor Gate and as a professor at HCC. She continues to write garden articles and share her knowledge on radio programs and as a speaker.

Linda will share ideas on transitional garden color and container combinations with for fall and the Thanksgiving period. And those for winter/Christmas garden and container color for family gatherings. 

hors d'oeuvres and cash bar at 6:30 pm, Lecture at 7 pm
Members: $20, Guests: $30
November 10, 10 am - 3 pm

Peckerwood Garden abre sus puertas al público durante varios días al año. El primer tour en Español se conducirá el Sábado 10 de Noviembre 2018 de 10am - 2pm. No dejen de asistir.

Mira aquí para más detalles.
Collecting the rare, localized oaks in mountains of the Trans-Pecos 
By Adam Black
Early July proved to be a good time for a scouting trip, as one of our target species surprisingly had ripe acorns. Quercus robusta is a poorly known, and locally rare species, with the best-known individual being the “tie-down tree” growing along an intermittent stream through the desert that carries runoff from the looming Chisos Mountains in Big Bend National Park. It is well-known that the Comanche would mark trails or important features by bending a limber yet reasonably sized tree down and securing the top to the ground, where it will eventually adapt and continue surviving in this state. A number of similar ancient marker trees continue to survive in other parts of the Midwest. Whether this particular Q. robusta served as a marker tree is likely impossible to prove, as it also may have ended up in this position through a natural event such as a flash flood or windstorm.
The debatable Quercus robusta (top) and Quercus emoryi below.
Anisacanthus linearis along the trail to the Quercus robusta locality.
There are a variety of opinions on whether Q. robusta qualifies as a valid species. After looking closely at it, I feel it is simply a hybrid with the common Q. emoryi and another red oak, the likely candidates being Q. gravesii or Q. graciliformis, which both grow in the vicinity. Near the “tie-down tree” is another individual that resembles it, but other trees at this grove appear to be typical Q. emoryi. The fact that Emory oak acorns also were ripe at this time adds further evidence to Q. robusta being a hybrid with it. Still, I collected acorns to distribute to other conservation-oriented gardens so we all can see how stable or hybridized the seedlings appear, and simply make it more accessible for future genetics studies.
Mid-August, Shannon, Emily and I headed west. Our first stop was a ranch in the Eagle Mountains southwest of Van Horn. Since this mountain range is privately owned, few botanical studies have been undertaken here. Our main target was Q. chihuahuensis, a species more common in Mexico but known in the U.S. only from here and another location at Hueco Tanks State Park. Hybridization with Q. grisea was reportedly diluting the genetics of this species, but a few trees were confirmed by French oak enthusiast Beatrice Chasse as resembling the pure species she had seen previously in Mexico when she and I visited last year. Unlike last year, we were pleased to find some of these trees with acorns – likely the first time these U.S. populations have been brought into cultivation. Now to see how hybridized the seedlings may be.
The Eagle Mountains harbor many mysterious oaks.
Glad we were in my 4x4 truck, we drove up an extremely steep, rocky road until conditions appeared unsafe. From there we hiked to the top of Eagle Peak, where we found other interesting oaks we could not readily identify. Most interesting were a few dwarf suckering species forming attractive groundcovers two feet high with silver leaves and highly toothed margins. Divisions and acorns were collected to see if they retain these characteristics in cultivation.
Our next stop was the Davis Mountains. Last year Beatrice and I found some Q. oblongifolia there and wanted to collect acorns. When obtaining permission from the Nature Conservancy, staffers were surprised as this species had never been recorded from anywhere in the Davis Mountains. We were granted permission to make collections as well as press herbarium specimens to be submitted to the Sul Ross University herbarium to officially document their presence in this location. We found a couple of nice individuals that were identifiable from afar by their conspicuous blue coloration, as well as a number of likely hybrids with the ubiquitous Q. grisea. Dr. Michael Powell, director of the Sul Ross herbarium, agreed our specimens matched this species, and noted how there is so much more to be discovered in the mountains of west Texas.
Quercus chihuahuensis in the Eagle Mountains.
Quercus oblongifolia , a new record for the Davis Mountains.
We had hoped to get permission to collect Q. depressipes from near the summit of Mt. Livermore on the Nature Conservancy’s property, but learned that acorn production from their 24 known shrubby individuals has historically been very infrequent, and they understandably were not comfortable with the scant amount produced every few years being collected. This is another species more common in Mexico, yet only occurring in the U.S. at this one dwindling site. We are discussing other means of propagation to back up the genetics of this population should a natural or human-caused disaster impact the area.
After a night in Alpine, Sul Ross University professor Dr. Martin Terry took us to a silver mine near the town of Shafter, which flanks the eastern edge of the Chinati Mountains. It is here the rare, shrubby Q. hinckleyi grows on limestone soils among typical Chihuahuan Desert flora. Last year Martin and I found a few acorns the mule deer hadn’t eaten, but we hoped for a better crop this year. After searching among the silvery blue holly-shaped leaves in each low-growing clump, we found no acorns. It was clear that many clumps were being heavily grazed by introduced Barbary sheep. We stopped at another population on the silver mine property, but this one was accessed along a highway. Here we found a single acorn before getting distracted by the earth star cacti Ariocarpus fissuratus that cryptically grow flush with the gravelly ground. I remembered a weeping Leucophyllum minus that I had noticed last year at this site, and cuttings were secured.
Martin Terry (L) and Shannon Still searching in vain for acorns on the ground-hugging Quercus hinckleyi.
The linear arrangements of green are Selaginella lepidophylla , which only unfurl from their shriveled state following sufficient rains.
Heading back to civilization, we waited our turn at the border patrol checkpoint south of Marfa. A police officer parked there got out and pointed us out to the border patrol agents. Wondering what was going on, they verified our citizenship and instructed us to pull ahead and meet the waiting officer. He sternly informed us that we were reported trespassing on private property, but he would give us a chance to explain our way out of a ticket to jail. Martin explained that we had permission to access the property and dropped names. Following a long discussion and a phone call, the officer said that we had inadvertently strayed off the property we had access to simply by walking over an unfenced ridge. Fortunately Martin also knew the property owner who reported us and got everything straightened out with a phone call. Whew!
With no acorns, we focused on other desert treasures. Some large marine snail fossils were eroding out of the limestone slopes, evidence of the area being an ocean during the time of the dinosaurs. The landscape was temporarily accentuated with lush greenery contributed by masses of unfurled rosettes of Selaginella lepidophylla, resurrected from its usual dormant, desiccated state by the recent rains.
The Chisos Mountains beckoned, so we made our way south toward Big Bend National Park, stopping only to quickly check some roadside Q. emoryi for seed and to rescue a large surly bull snake from the road. We stopped by the park headquarters to get the key to our accommodations – the historic K-Bar Ranch House. The house predates the formation of the park and is now available for visiting researchers to use as a base of operations. We unloaded our excess gear then hiked up the peak known as Casa Grande in search of Q. carmenensis. After we veered off the beaten path to bushwhack up to the precipitous east slope, storm clouds rapidly formed around its box-shaped crown, and lighting strikes added some excitement as we gained elevation. Surmounting a saddle ridge and carefully negotiating a near vertical, loose rockslide, the expansive vista with Juniper Canyon below created a sweeping backdrop to our scrutinization of the intriguing oaks on the precarious slope.
The aptly named living rock cactus ( Ariocarpus fissuratus ) effectively blends in with the desert pavement
We found many things that could superficially be interpreted as Q. carmenensis, but none comfortably matched the description of the species, nor the other known species of the region. With hybridization among the oaks of this region quite the norm, our best guess is that there is a mix of genetics among these oaks, though some features hint toward genetic contributions from some oak that wouldn’t be any of those typical to the Chisos. Perhaps Q. carmenensis is in the mix, but we could not find any we would consider close to the pure species. None had acorns either, which could have given us more clues. We collected a number of herbarium specimens that captured the variability of this complex, and retraced our steps down the slope while enjoying the fiery sunset.
This scar in the desert below the powerlines is a recently installed gas pipeline that destroyed one subpopulation of Quercus hinckleyi , emphasizing the importance of our work.
Dr. Michael Powell, curator of the Sul Ross University Herbarium and respected expert of the Trans-pecos flora, confirming some of our finds.
The next morning, we drove back into the mountains to get an early start for a long, ambitious day hike. At Laguna Meadows, the beautiful shrubby oak Q. intricata grows in profusion. We already knew that the abundance of juvenile acorns that I had seen earlier in the year had aborted, but we wanted to find the other reported occurrences of Q. carmenensis. All we found were more strange things like we had seen on Casa Grande, and again, no acorns. From these we collected some root suckers to at least get some material in cultivation for further observations
Moving on, we entered the upper reaches of Boot Canyon, named for the conspicuous rock formation that looks exactly like an upside down cowboy boot. The cooler, moist conditions create a refugium for various plants otherwise found in the higher elevations of the distant Rocky Mountains, including Douglas fir ( Pseudotsuga menziesii) and Arizona cypress ( Cupressus arizonica). Various oaks better known from further west grow here, including Q. arizonica and Q. rugosa which provided us seed.
Collecting from the mysterious oaks on Casa Grande in the Chisos Mountains, often thought to have an affinity to Quercus carmenensis.
Too bad this highly ornamental plant is a form of poison ivy!
Most mysterious of the oaks of Boot Canyon or the Chisos, is Q. tardifolia. Like the abundant Q. gravesii, it is a red oak, but it differs with its short, broad leaves with shallow lobes and noticeable pubescence. The original tree which grew at Boot Spring died years ago, and nobody has seen another since. Though it had been suggested that it was a hybrid, I always had assumed that Q. tardifolia was merely an extreme variation of the highly variable Q. gravesii. Low and behold, once we started looking, we found several trees that could be interpreted as conforming to Q. tardifolia. Seeds were collected, and it will be interesting to see if the resulting seedlings retain the appearance of Q. tardifolia, or if we get more typical forms of Q. gravesii in the mix.
Looping along the rim of Boot Canyon, a familiar shocking orange stopped us in our tracks. Dichromanthus cinnabarinus is a large-statured orchid native to Mexico and barely entering the U.S. in the Chisos and Davis Mountains. I had seen this colony flowering two years ago, but this time it was flowering more robustly. Looking so out of place, we all agreed with Shannon’s assessment that it appeared to be something you would expect in South Africa, not Texas.
The amazing orchid Dichromanthus cinnabarinus looks so out of place in this environment.
Quercus tardifolia , perhaps.
Though not an oak, the Chisos hophornbeam ( Ostrya chisosensis) is a rare tree only found at a few sites in the Chisos Mountains and in Mexico. Since our permit allowed, we happily collected mature seeds to finally back up this tree in cultivation. Working our way back down the Pinnacles Trail toward the Basin trailhead, the low sun turned the distant mountains into glowing amber as we arrived in time to get a welcome hot meal at the Basin Lodge restaurant.
Our final day in Big Bend National Park was an exploratory trip to Juniper Spring in Juniper Canyon, where there were reports of Q. graciliformis. Shannon and Emily had collected this species in 2016 with Andrew McNeil-Marshall from Blue Creek Canyon, but we figured it would be good to get seeds from this population. Unlike our previous mountain hikes, the spring would be accessed from the low desert. An hour driving on a rough, unpaved road eventually brought us to the trailhead, still quite far from the mountains. Hiking a few hours through the hot, exposed landscape without gaining much elevation, we eventually saw some trees in a nearby arroyo. Forcing our way through thorn scrub, we eventually came upon a huge Q. graciliformis loaded with acorns. Next to it was a late-fruiting Q. emoryi, and then we began seeing trees that appeared intermediate between the two, but were still individually unique…some even resembling the Q. robusta mentioned earlier. We collected acorns and herbarium specimens from select representatives and started the long way back.
A very unusual red oak from Juniper Canyon that resembles some species better known from Mexico.
All of our herbarium specimens in the press.
The next morning we pressed our final herbarium specimens in preparation for the drive to Austin where Shannon and Emily would catch their flight back to California the next day. North of Marathon we planned to stop near the Glass Mountains for some roadside collecting of Q. mohriana, a species we hadn’t seen yet on this trip. When a downpour refused to subside, we simply got wet as we collected acorns from several individuals of Q. mohriana. As an added bonus, the many beautiful Pinus remota at this site were loaded with ripe cones full of seed.
Before their flight, Shannon and Emily wanted to get a quick taste of the oaks of the Edwards Plateau. A loop through some rolling limestone hills near Leakey yielded the powder-blue Q. laceyi, Q. buckleyi, Q. sinuata var. breviloba, Q. marilandica var. ashei, Q. vaseyana, and various forms of Q. fusiformis from dwarf to towering. Some final collections were made. 
Acorns from this trip are being distributed to various botanic gardens with a conservation focus.
A presumed hybrid with Quercus laceyi and Q. stellata in the southern hill country.