PaperCity Magazine

PaperCity Houston June 2022

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R enowned plant e x p l o r e r J o h n Fairey died in 2020 at age 89, leaving a legacy that includes a remarkable 39- acre public garden with more than 3,000 trees and plants, many of them rare and endangered. Randy Twaddle is the executive director of The John Fairey Garden — located an hour northwest of Houston in Hempstead — and resides on the grounds in a house Fairey built in 2002. "It's like waking up in paradise," Twaddle says. He first visited the garden in 2014 as the guest of a board member. "I couldn't believe something like this existed, especially so close to Houston," he says. "The scale of the garden and the beauty and variety was amazing. I couldn't get over the fact that one guy had done all this." The visit was life changing. "I was immediately aware of a general feeling of well-being; the gardens just made me feel better," he says. A well-known visual artist in Houston with a background in branding and marketing, Twaddle was invited to join the garden's board a year later and eventually became its president. He moved to the garden full-time the summer after Fairey's death, when much of Houston was still in pandemic lockdown. "In some ways, it was a guilty luxury — having this time to myself to focus on the new job without distractions. I spent a lot of time just walking around the garden to get to know it. John once said it took six years of living here to understand the garden, and I'm barely two years into it." The backbone of the garden consists of more than 60 species of oak trees, many grown from seeds collected by Fairey in Mexico — some so rare they are not yet named by horticulturalists. There are also woodland gardens with camellias, azaleas, and mock orange trees; an arboretum with rare Mexican magnolias; a conifer berm with pine trees and junipers; dry gardens with succulents such as agave and cactus; and a circle of giant palms. These living plant collections are carefully propagated, maintained, and displayed for educational purposes and help preserve rare, threatened, and unusual plants from the area. PARADISE THIS BY REBECCA SHERMAN. PHOTOGRAPHY PÄR BENGTSSON. ART DIRECTION MICHELLE AVIÑA. THE JOHN FAIREY GARDEN IN HEMPSTEAD IS ONE OF THE WORLD'S MOST BEAUTIFUL AND ACCLAIMED CONSERVATION GARDENS. EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR RANDY TWADDLE TAKES THE HELM INTO A CHALLENGING NEW FUTURE. SIDE OF 49

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