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Salvia microphylla ‘San Carlos Festival’ T45M-31p

A beautiful small perennial shrub with bright pink blossoms late spring, fall and sporadically between. Selected from a wild population of the species by John and Carl at La Bufa del Diente in the San Carlos Mountains of northeastern Tamaulipas, Mexico at around 3800’. This versatile plant has proven cold hardy into zone 7, but is perfectly fine in zone 9 of Houston. Full sun with well-draining soil is best for good form and heavy flowering. Well-started gallon plants available.

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Quercus sp. “San Carlos” – San Carlos Mountains Red Oak

Previously thought to be a form of Quercus sartorii, the identity of this oak species is inconclusive, and could very well be a new, undescribed species. We are sticking with the designation that Yucca Do Nursery offered it as in recent years, which refers to the San Carlos Mountains in northeastern Tamaulipas where John Fairey and Carl Schoenfeld collected it. The unique shape of the narrow, jaggedly toothed leaves that emerge a hot pink color make this a favorite oak among many enthusiasts. We have a few well-started seedlings available that were kindly donated by Wally Wilkins, propagated from acorns collected in the garden.

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Phlebodium pseudaureum – Blue Rabbit’s Foot Fern

The chalky blue fronds of this fern always garner attention in the woodland garden. There simply isn’t much else that can contribute this color in the shady garden. Though naturally growing as an epiphyte on trees or on rocks, John has been successful growing it terrestrially, but care is needed to ensure the thick rhizome remains on top of well-draining soil as it will rot if it is buried. The foliage will die back in our winters, but as long as the rhizome is kept dry and insulated by a covering of leaf mulch, it will replenish its robust foliage in spring. It also can be mounted like an orchid or grown in a hanging basket.

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Anemone x ‘Alice Staub’ – Alice Staub Japanese Anemone

There are a number of different selections of Japanese anemones, a misnomer as their parentage is really native to China but became popular in Japan, where they are now naturalized. Most fail to prosper in Gulf Coast gardens, but this form that the late Alice Staub received from Lynn Lowery has stood the test of time in her Houston garden, growing vigorously and flowering reliably in fall. John has a lush patch of this just north of his house, where it even receives a few hours of direct sun.

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Hemiphylacus hintoniorum

By Adam Black
Here’s an obscure one that we finally have identified. The silvery-blue clumps of erect rubbery leaves could be interpreted as belonging to an agave or yucca, but the identity of this plant has continued to intrigue me. John has a planting in the north dry garden by the blue wall as well as another colony in the south dry garden just above the fountain pool. The tag indicated he had collected it in Mexico on the “road to Camarones,” so I had been light-heartedly referring to it as the “shrimp road lily.” I had assumed it must be some strange member of the Agavaceae family, bearing a combination of features otherwise found in Beschorneria, Manfreda and Polianthes. It flowered last year, with a 3-foot tall branched inflorescence lined with dangling tubular white flowers with a violet blush, but these only created more of a mystery rather than shed light on this plant’s identity.
Hemiphylacus hintoniorumflowers.
Hemiphylacus hintonioruminflorescences
The plants are currently flowering again, this time even more vigorously, and I decided to post some photos on Facebook to see if anyone else had any ideas. Various suggestions we had already exhausted flowed in, but then Aaron Floden, a botanical taxonomist at Missouri Botanical Garden, confidently chimed in with “Hemiphylacus.” Since I had never heard of this genus, I looked it up and sure enough found a few photos in habitat of a plant that resembled ours spot-on, named Hemiphylacus hintoniorum.
Researching further, the current genetic studies show the genusHemiphylacus is a direct relative of Asparagus – yes, the edible vegetable. The two genera are the only ones recognized in Asparagaceae subfamily Asparagoideae. Though they look completely different, one similarity they both share are thick, fleshy nodular roots, as anyone who has grown “asparagus fern” (Asparagus aethiopicus) likely knows. Hemiphylacus dies back to this mass of roots in winter, but erupts out of the ground in spring with a refreshed rosette of clean silvery blue.
Last year we had a variegated offset appear from the clump by the blue wall that looked quite consistent and stable, but this year it returned from dormancy with only a few streaks, dashing our hopes of already having a cultivar of this plant that is currently rather unknown in cultivation. We produce a limited amount of offsets each year and hope to first back our plants up with other botanical gardens, but perhaps we will be successful in producing seeds with this current flowering and can offer offspring in the near future
Hemiphylacus hintoniorum
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Yucca desmetiana

By Adam Black
Another highlight in our nursery inventory and our plant of the month, is a regularly asked- about specimen on our Peckerwood Garden tours. This distinctive and mysterious yucca is unlike any other, with a lot of conflicting information surrounding its true identity.
Originally described in 1870 from a cultivated plant, more recently folks have suggested it could be a hybrid of natural or garden origin, but it may be a naturally occurring species – I don’t know if anyone really knows for sure.
They can be seen growing staked for vertical growth near the Pool Plaza.
Yucca desmetiana may want to creep along the ground when the stems get too long_ or they can be staked up.
Yucca desmetiana  may want to creep along the ground when the stems get too long, or they can be staked up.
Adding to the confusion are a variety of names it has been offered under in cultivation, including Yucca x desmetiana (reflecting the hybrid theory), Yucca aloifolia ‘Purpurea,’ Y ucca samuelii, and cultivar names including ‘Blue Boy’ and ‘Spellbound,’ all appearing to be the same plant. Though there are reports of it flowering in cultivation, I can’t find any photos, and to my knowledge it has never flowered here. Its chalky blue-green foliage displays purple blush on the new foliage, which intensifies after some winter chilling. Unlike many other species, this yucca has soft rubbery leaves that won’t result in loss of blood. A smaller-statured species, it starts with an erect stem that will produce a cluster of additional stems from the base, but with poor structural integrity it will eventually start leaning under its own weight and soon be scrambling in a twisting manner along the ground, which can create an interesting effect spilling over rocks, especially when it produces multiple stems. John made an interesting grouping of them near the pool plaza where they are staked up, but when they get too tall and lanky for his liking they get cut back to allow new stems to take their place. It is also great for containers, and maybe even a large hanging basket when it starts creeping around.
Its main requirements is sun to partial shade in well-draining soil. It easily tolerates our region’s extremes of heat and cold without any issues. Come purchase one from our nursery while they last.
The chill-intensified purple blush that fades somewhat when the temperatures warm.
The chill-intensified purple blush that fades somewhat when the temperatures warm.