Peckerwood Garden created with the eye of an artist” by Kathy Huber.

After more than four decades, John Fairey sees no end to the planting at Peckerwood Garden, his legendary living laboratory near Hempstead.

“I’m always thinking about what to add,” the gracious 84-year-old South Carolina native says as he gently lifts the leaf of a fish-tail camellia for closer inspection. “I like to collect. Maybe that’s good, maybe bad. But part of the mystery of gardening is what people can grow.”

At least 70 plants are waiting in the wings at Peckerwood, but the plantsman will take the time needed to strategically place each among the 3,000 rare and unusual species and cultivars from around the world. He’ll thumb through a pile of catalogs for even more possibilities.

A collector’s enthusiasm can nix good garden design. But Fairey, an artist and retired Texas A&M design professor, has a keen, patient eye that places each plant so that its shape, color and texture are cast in perfect light.

“I think about the garden as a painting,” he says of his evolving canvas on the rolling land.

This article about Peckerwood Garden appeared in the Houston Chronicle Feb. 23, 2015. Read the full article online.