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.

 

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Arbutus menziesii

Pacific Madrone, iconic tree of the Pacific Northwest. Famous for its glossy, russet orange, sinuous, 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 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. Oregon native plant.

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Arbutus unedo

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.

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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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Azara microphylla (Upright form)

We’ve chosen this distinct form of Azara microphylla which has a much more upright habit and is also hardier to cold. Fast growing light textured evergreen tree. The tiny leaves are deep forest green and glossy and good looking year round. In March on old wood from the previous year and beyond alights with tiny yellow filament flowers. They have the intense and penetrating perfume of hot candy. Well, thats my take, others frequently chime in that it smells like Cocoa or Vanilla. Its an odd sweet fragrance that carries for many feet on mild early spring days. Explosively fast growing tree for any well drained site with regular deep watering. This speeds up early growth to 3′- 4′ a year. The dark, fine foliage provides a great contrast with the light taupe/tan colored bark. In time it exfoliates to reveal bright orange and tan patterns. Excellent urban tree that is incredibly drought tolerant when established. Locate out of the path of the most violent subfreezing east wind. Ultimate height in 10 years is about 22′ tall and less than half as wide. Easy, satisfying tree native to southern Chile. Great performance at the Oregon Coast as well. Casts very light shade.

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Ceanothus thyrsiflorus ‘Rogue Sky’

A selection of Coast Blue Blossom or Ceanothus thyrsiflorus that we made very far inland from its natural range in SW Oregon. Typically relegated to the coastal strip we found this variety more than 35 miles inland. This improves cold hardiness. A rapidly growing shrub/tree to 16′ tall and 8′ wide in 7 years. Robin’s egg blue flowers smother the whole plant in May. Extremely drought tolerant this fast grower may be either used as a cool, evergreen, native, blue flowered tree or it may be pruned aggressively after blooming to limit the size- increase density create a screen or hedge. Loved by honey bees and all pollinators in general.  No summer water once established. Excellent background tree that delights in bloom but fades to a green screen the rest of the year. Plant with other drought tolerant plants- Arctostaphylos, Cistus, etc. Grows 3′-4′ per year when established. The flowers are a soothing blue- which is hard to capture in photographs. The effect in bloom is a blue cloud. Takes partial shade and the worst soils. Oregon native plant.

Xera Plants Introduction

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Cercis occidentalis

Western Redbud is a wonderful showy spring blooming tree that gets by on no summer water. Native to California also Utah, Arizona this is primarily a large shrub in the wild. We have found in our climate with a longer rainy season it forms a small tree. In April this entire tree comes to life smothered in tiny but profuse magenta pink pea flowers. They line all the stems and even appear on the trunk. After three weeks of glory the handsome new leaves appear. Round and blue green they have a slight rubbery texture. To 14′-18′ tall and forming a spreading crown. Fall color is orange to yellow but not reliable. Large purple colored seed pods are showy and persist after the leaves have gone. Moderately fast growing (2′-3′) per year when happy. Full sun and well drained soil of average fertility. Water through the first summer to establish then no summer water in subsequent years. Thrives in our climate.

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Chionanthus virginicus

American fringe tree has never been common in our region. And to be honest I have never grown it and the experts that I know have given me conflicting reports. So, 3 years ago when my neighbors planted them as street trees, I was intrigued to see how they actually did in our climate- in a stressful situation too. The results are excellent. Not only does it cope with no summer water, it seems to get enough heating calories here to bloom, and bloom like crazy. Petaloid puffs of white foam above and below the branches in May/June. Its a spectacle. To 18′ tall and less than half as wide in 10 years. I’d certainly recommend not only full sun but a warm position AND reliable summer irrigation. Loves heat. Fall color is almost non-existent which will immediately damn it with landscape architects. I, however, heartily endorse this wonderful small, deciduous tree from the American S.E.

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Chitalpa x tashkentensis ‘White Cloud’

A very pretty  intergeneric hybrid tree between Catalpa and Chilopsis (Desert Willow). We really like this small tree that forms an umbrella shaped crown in time. To 20′ tall and continuously producing opulent large white flower clusters- the interior of the flower is marked with purple veining- much like an exotic orchid. The flowers appear on new growth and are continuous from June to September. The long thin tapered light green leaves have a nice texture. They do not color up appreciably in fall- making due with light yellow to off green before abandoning the tree. Excellent garden tree. We prefer the white flowered form as the often planted pink variety …..well, lets just say Portland has a LOT of pink flowering trees. Fast growing in youth-especially if well watered in summer. Otherwise, supremely tolerant of drought as well as rough, hot urban conditions. Casts moderate shade in time. Breaks dormancy late- usually late April. Be patient.

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Cinnamomum checkiangense

Excellent, sophisticated, graceful and cold hardy evergreen tree that thrives in our climate. Large, green pendant leaves are marked with  three prominent veins. New growth in spring emerges bright coral red before changing to mid green. Horizontal branching structure in tiers displays the handsome foliage very well. In late spring curious little white/green flowers amuse but are hard to spot. Fast growing straight trunked tree to 25′ tall with a spread half as wide. The crown is conical shaped but becomes more spreading in time. Excellent cold hardiness as well as adaptation to ice and snow. We love this unusual member of the Lauraceae. It should be planted often.

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