An exciting shrub/small tree with paddle shaped blue evergreen phyllodes for foliage and in late winter to early spring a massive display of luminous yellow flowers. I’ve always loved Australian wattles so it was with great excitement that we decided to grow this striking plant. Moderately fast growing to 16′ tall and 8′ wide forming either multiple or a single trunk. The bark is chocolate brown and smooth. Very few Australian Acacias will thrive in Portland, its just about 5 degrees too cold in our coldest years. This one is different, (a few species will live for 4-6 years before they finally succumb to Jack Frost. Acacia pravissima etc.) This, however, is the cold hardiest that we have grown. It is hardy to just below 10ºF for brief stints- good enough for long term survival. This is a rare limited endemic to the high mountains of New South Wales but is popular as a garden subject the world over. The small, fluffy, balls of electric yellow flowers foam among the blue leaves – incredibly pretty. Full sun and a protected location – against a south facing wall is ideal for a very pretty fun to grow tree. Once fully open the flowering stems may be cut for long lasting bouquets. Blooms on wood from the previous season, prune if needed after flowering has ended. Light consistent water to establish . Not fussy about soils and happiest in full, all day sun. Protect from subfreezing east wind. Bloom time is concurrent with several earlier Ceanothus (‘Blue Jeans’, ‘Dark Star’, ‘Concha’) and creates a vivid early spring yellow and blue display not soon to be forgotten. Drought adapted when established. Not bothered by deer/elk- not entirely sure about rabbits- if they are profuse in your neighborhood it wouldn’t hurt to protect the plant with chicken wire when young. Beautiful year round and spectacular in bloom. AKA Blue Bush.
Plant Type: Tree
Trees are a gardeners gift to the next generation and they are among the most satisfying things that you will ever plant. The trees that we grow fit several perameters: They are suited to small gardens. More and more gardeners are faced with lack of space. They have at least several outstanding attributes- flowers, bark, fall color, evergreen, graceful habit among more. From Crape Myrtles to truly cold hardy Eucalyptus as well as our own natives take a moment to peruse our trees and dream of your own arboretum.
Trees require forethought
Trees are not difficult to grow in our climate (see timber industry) and the majority of street trees for the entire nation find their start in the Willamette Valley. So, we’ve decided to be more pragmatic with our selection. Most are somewhat difficult to find. That is generally because they are either rare or difficult to grow in containers. Also, notice that each tree has its own particular needs and those should be met. That means that you should consider that the douglas fir you are about to plant 10′ away from a Madrone will be quite a different dynamic in half a generation. Therefore, plan ahead.
Climate adapted small trees
If you can visit a full grown specimen of your prospective tree that is the best of all worlds. We’ve grown all of them for the past 20 years and we’ve developed a fondness for trees. We are increasing our collection of native trees. As our climate warms summer drought will begin earlier and end later in the year. A long dry season. We focus on trees that are native to the Willamette Valley floor. Those are the most drought adapted.
Care leads to success
Its imperative that you take care of ANY TREE for at least one season. That means you mulch the tree heavily (keeping mulch away from the trunk) and water it deeply and frequently. This inundation of water usually leads to years worth of growth and a deeper less problematic root system.
Water trees consistently for the first three years
Develop a moat around each tree and fill it with water at least once per week. There is no need to fertilize in our climate and its important that you understand the trees natural adaptation. An example is gardening under Oregon white oak- (Quercus garryana var. garryana ) you should never irrigate heavily in summer. These trees prefer a dry break. We offer a lot of plants for growing under native oaks and trees in general.
Many shrubs can morph into trees over time
Remember that many plants grown as shrubs are actually trees down the road. Osmanthus, Leptospermum, Arctostaphylos, Ceanothus, even Lagerstroemia can be planted as shrubs as long as you understand they will not stop growing and in time will become arborescent.
Unusual trees can be difficult to find of good size
Note that many rare trees are not available in tree sizes. That is because the do not sell particularly fast and we avoid holding container stock. If you can’t find the tree anywhere else, there is probably a reason. Have fun.
Climate Adapted Plants for Gardeners in the PNW
Mudgee Wattle or simply showy wattle this is an extremely pretty small tree that requires a very protected location to thrive. Blue/green bipinnate leaves are intricate and pretty. In very late winter to early spring a stunning show of electric yellow puff ball flowers. It covers the whole tree weighing down the limbs in full bloom. To 12′-15′ tall in rich to average soil and it absolutely requires full sun. Excellent against a south facing wall. The flowers truly are showy and glow from quite a distance. Native to New South Wales and southern Queensland on table lands. Cold hardy to at least 18ºF- it should take colder temperatures if sited correctly. As with all Acacias it is extremely fast growing when young. Consistent summer water. Loved by hummingbirds and insects in general. This special small tree can begin its life in a spindly way. Full sun and regular water strengthens this growth. Excellent, and best adapted for the Oregon coast. It adapts to life on sand (with supplemental water) as well as well developed soils. Not bothered by deer. The large delicate leaves are blue/gray and are pretty year round. This Acacia is not as cold hardy as Acacia covenyi and is hardier than Acacia pravissima. Following bloom long dusty purple seed pods contrast against the blue/gray foliate. Bark is black to dark brown. Inland it is considered experimental. Eastern Australia.
Vine Maple is perhaps our most beautiful native maple. Found from SW British Columbia to Northern California in the Shasta area. Its a pervasive understory tree throughout the western part of the state. It derives its name from its almost vine like habit in shade. This winding and sun seeking component leads to the most graceful natural forms. In full sun it is a compact, multi-trunked shrub. In autumn in both habitats it turns to shades of fiery orange and yellow and red. Vivid against the pure green trunks and stems. One of the most dramatic places you will see this shrub is at 4500′ on Belknap crater on McKenzie Pass where it lives among the lava. In early fall the brilliant colors of the maples contrasts wonderfully with the black lava. Its very hot and very dry but its also very high in elevation. The symmetrically serrated round leaves rival any Japanse maple. In shade established trees get by with little summer water. In the sun irrigation is welcome. Rich to average soil with regular applications of mulch. To 16′ tall in shade and again quite a bit shorter in full sun- very wide in shade. Avoid the reflected heat of south facing walls. This shrub/tree belongs on the north side or under substantial shade. Some deer resistance. Excellent underplanted with native ferns and Gaultheria. A common native that should be a more common ornamental. Tiny red flowers turn into sunny orange samaras by autumn and persist past the leaves. Avoid very dry shade of un-irrigated over hangs. This is a semi-mesic maple. Oregon native plant
Acer glabrum ssp. douglasii
Rocky mountain maple or locally also known as Douglas maple is our form of a widespread and sweet small tree that ranges from the Yukon in Canada to the highest mountains of northern Mexico. Our local variety is found in all of the mountainous parts of the state. This demure tree is the least planted of our native maples and deserves much more inclusion in our gardens. In the coast range it is found primarily above 2000′ and it can even be found lower in the Cascades. It follows the spine of the Ochocos in eastern Oregon up into the Blue mountains and Wallowa Mountains in the far north east. Rarely pole straight in stature its often multi-trunked and single trunked trees are in the minority in the wild. Ours are single trunks but multiple stems do not take away from the fresh green leaves and pretty to stunning fall color. The familiar maple leaves can achieve anything from dull yellow to shots of vermillion. Depending on the weather and tree. Soft gray bark. To 25′ tall moderately fast. Tiny green flowers morph into rosy hued samaras in autumn. Regular water for the first several years. This tree does appreciate rich soil that retains moisture in the Willamette Valley. Excellent woodland tree or even more appropriate on the edge of a stand of trees where it receives at least half a day of sun. The most recent years stems are often sanguine red, nice contrast with the grass green elegant leaves. The most striking fall color is achieved with more sun. A mesic maple that often follows water courses or lines wet ground. Single trunked trees are conical shaped and multi-trunked forms are more rounded and spreading. Deciduous. Avoid blasting heat and drought. Oregon native plant.
Albizia julibrissin ‘Summer Chocolate’
Amazing form of Mimosa that seems to thrive in the Willamette Valley. Finely divided foliage is a remarkable maroon/black. The pale pink powderpuff flowers that appear just after the leaves and continue for two months are excellently contrasted by the leaves. A very wide spreading tree to 25′ tall and as wide in 10 years. Full, unobstructed sun and virtually any soil that drains well. It’s vitally important that you water this tree heavily upon planting and into its first autumn. It must be well established to sail through its first winter. I have 4 in my garden and I watered them very heavily for the first summer season and they have never looked back. Creates exotic, beautiful specimens in time.
NOT AVAILABLE 2022/23
Pacific Madrone, iconic tree of the Pacific Northwest. Famous for its glossy, russet orange sinuous trunks, exfoliating bark, and round, evergreen foliage. In spring, clusters of white flowers are showy and turn into vivid red berries by autumn. These are loved by birds- especially western tanagers who will quickly strip a tree as flocks move from one to the next. Must be grown from seed and it must be transplanted when small. Just the way it is. Plant it in average, well drained soil. Water lightly through the first summer in subsequent years leave it strictly alone. Full sun is best- tends to wander towards the sun in shade. Underplant with low water natives such as Arctostaphylos, Ceanothus, Vancouveria. Slow at first it picks up speed after about 4 years- then it can grow 2′-4′ a year. Somewhat messy tree- loses older leaves in summer and the bark exfoliates all over the place too. Know this and live with it. Ours are raised from seed of trees native to our wholesale nursery site- so its a local strain. Pacific madrone is native from the highest mountains of southern California to southern British Columbia. It is the northern-most broadleaved evergreen tree (native) in North America. Oregon native plant.
This is the standard small tree form of Strawberry Tree that is so important in PNW horticulture. A good looking evergreen tree that eventually forms a rounded dense crown. To 16′ tall and a third as wide in 10 years. Excellent small patio tree- as long as you account for the prodigious autumn fruit drop. Birds and squirrels consume the fruit which is alluded to in the specific name unedo- which means ‘I eat only one.’ I know people who eat them and claim to like them. So to each their own. No denying the electric neon yellow to bright red fruit is striking September to December. White urn shaped flowers appear simultaneously with the fruits in autumn. In time the bark develops to dark brown and shredding. Native to the Mediterranean with a disjunct population in southern Ireland. Drought tolerant when established.
Arctostaphylos manzanita ‘Dr. Hurd’
An old and venerable cultivar of this species. This small tree achieves 12′-15′ with great age forming a showy and jaw dropping evergreen. Pale sea foam green/ grayish foliage is large and very circular giving this tree a billowing appearance. In winter white tinted pink flowers erupt from all the branch tips. These morph into large russet berries consumed by birds. The mahogany twisting, muscular bark is the most outstanding feature. Fast growing in youth (2′-5′) per year when excited. Give this dry loving shrub EXCELLENT air circulation in an open exposure. It can be afflicted by black spot in wetter than normal springs. ‘Austin Griffiths’ which is 1/2 this cultivar is more resistant to black spot. In time you can remove the lower shaded branches to show the trunk and improve air circulation as well as general good looks. Tall and often half as wide. Locate in a hot sunny place and water to establish then set it free. Very striking tree that is best planted as a smaller plant. Large specimens will NOT live as long and will be more difficult to establish.
Moroccan Pineapple Broom is a splendid, hardy NON-INVASIVE tree that we adore for its silver foliage and spicily scented cones of brilliant yellow flowers. Fast growing tree which may also be maintained as a shrub. In our climate with more rain than its native range it usually achieves tree like proportions. To 16′ tall by 10′ wide most often with one to three trunks. Best in poor to average soil with as little irrigation as possible once established. You must treat this plant with a bit of benign neglect. Overly enriched soil and too much supplemental irrigation leads to a rank growing and usually unstable plant that can go over easily in a wet gale. The flower fragrance is definitely pineapple with somewhat salty notes. Blooms appear May-July and are born on wood from the previous year. Prune-if needed AFTER flowering has ended. Full sun is ideal. Wonderful small tree for rough sites- compacted awful droughty soils. Almost always deciduous in our winters and surprisingly hardy taking temperatures just below 0ºF with no ill effects. Moderate deer resistance. Absorbs the blasting heat of south facing walls. Wonderful small tree. Beautiful espalier subject- see pruning above.
Azara microphylla ‘Variegata’
Pretty form of the normally deep green small leaved Azara. Tiny round, evergreen leaves are mostly cream with a light splash of dark green. Very pretty fine texture effect. Moderately fast growing tree to 12′ tall in 7 years. Part shade in a protected site. Protect from subfreezing east winds by siting on a south or west aspect. Nice semi-weeping tree for woodland margins, urban courtyards. In March it is smothered in tiny yellow flowers with the powerful perfume of cocoa. Loses some leaves below 15ºF but recovers them quickly in spring. Light summer water. Takes dry shade very well.
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