In early 2015, Peckerwood Garden began an ambitious project to document its plant collections. Guest horticulturist Susan Howard worked with John Fairey to update records of the oak collection. The garden participated in the Alliance for Public Gardens ARC/GIS program and installed state of the art mapping software.
Among the many plants being documented is the exceptional collection of Mexican oaks at the garden, including the evergreen Mexican white oak (Quercus polymorpha) specimen shown in this collage. The tree was collected in Villa Mainero Tamaulipas, Mexico, in 1999 and planted at Peckerwood Garden in 2004. Shown are leaf and acorn measurement for new and old growth, new growth (bronze in color), bark, developing acorns on the tree, and the full tree as of 2015.
In addition to measurements and botanical documentation, the database also records information about the history and cultivation of the specimens. Here are the notes for this Mexican white oak: “This quick-growing oak forms a narrow pyramid when young, but becomes a large, spreading tree with age, 40 to 50 ft. tall. Evergreen in most winters, its large, leathery leaves are variable (as its botanical name polymorpha suggests) but are generally oblong with saw-toothed edges. Spring new growth is bronze in color. Monterrey oak is native to northern Mexico and to Val Verde County, Texas. It is drought tolerant and adapts to alkaline, neutral, and acid soils. Introduced to Europe in 1878. Rare in cultivation. Likes acid soil."
The launch of the tree documentation project this past spring is described in more depth on the Peckerwood Garden website.
The Garden Conservancy assisted the project through a grant that facilitated the hiring of a professional to design the database and the hiring of a part-time employee to work with John Fairey in the field as well as inputting data into the database and mapping locations of the specimens.