Native Plant Road Trip – December, 2007

Leaves of the Lacey oak.
Photo by Neil Sperry.

Lacey Oak at the Heard Museum
Got up early for the trip over to McKinney for my annual Father Christmas appearance at the Heard Museum and Wildlife Sanctuary. Got me some coffee and hit the road. Got a little bit lost trying to make a shortcut off 121 to 635. Got saved by accidentally finding that George Bush Turnpike. Got panicked because I thought I was running late.  Got there on time after all. Said a heavenward thanks to my mother, who always used to tell me to be grateful for “everything I’ve got.”
The Texas Native Plant Garden looked good and I could see lots of new things were happening there, which translated into a smile for me because it used to be my “baby” when I worked there. Nowadays, Charlene Rowell is at the helm in that garden, and I appreciate that it’s under the care of someone who really loves plants.
Against the back of the garden stands one of my favorite Texas natives, the lovely Lacey oak. Some folks might tell you that it got that name from the “lacy” new foliage, but that’s just poppycock, because there’s nothing lacy about the beautiful, peach-colored spring foliage. (Actually, the new leaves color up in a range of lovely pastels, from peach to mango to papaya to pomegranate. I suppose there are other fruits one could throw into the mix, but let’s call it good.) Besides, the Lacey oak (Quercus laceyi /Q. glaucoides) was named after a rancher named Howard Lacey.
Endemic to the Texas Hill Country and growing to a height of only 25-30 feet, this small oak is much more suitable for tight urban landscapes than many larger species. The blue-tinged leaves are thick and somewhat leathery, rarely affected by disease or insects, and the bark is platy and gray, making the term “smoky” appropriate for describing the overall appearance. The tree eventually forms an interesting “crinkled globe” crown, which easily sets it apart from most other trees in the neighborhood. It generally produces a pretty healthy crop of acorns, much to the delight of the local wildlife. All of these attributes make it a perfect choice for resource-wise gardens, native plant gardens, wildscape gardens, and most “regular” gardens, from the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex south and west. One word of caution: it does not like wet feet, so make sure you plant it in adequately drained sites.
So there I was, out in the Heard garden … listening to the birds laughing and the children chirping … watching the leaves jump up to try and slow the wind … feeling the earth rotate under my feet … smelling the freshly-baked sunshine … and saying thanks again for “everything I’ve got.”

From the author: I wish a sincere Happy New Year to each and every one of you readers. Many of you have taken the time to come to Chandor Gardens and visit with me … and I sincerely appreciate that, because I usually learn more from you than you do from me. In the end, the garden is more than plants and soil and stone … it is a place where we come together to seek, learn, experience, hide, laugh, cry, heal, and truly become one with each other and the earth.
No one said it better than Baba Diom of Senegal, Africa :
“In the end,
we will save only what we love,
we will love only what we know,
and we will know only what we are taught.”

So visit and treasure your garden, whether it’s a pot on the porch or a hundred acres … it just may teach you what you’ve got.

Officially, Chandor Gardens is closed for the season, but we can still welcome you if you let us know you are coming. Give me a call at 817-598-4029 to make arrangements for your visit. And visit for more information.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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