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.
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
Toothed leaved Azara is a somewhat obscure evergreen tree native to South America. Closely related to the more common Azara microphylla, this species has much larger leaves and MUCH larger gold flowers. The puff ball gold flowers deck all the boughs in an opulent spring display that lasts for weeks. An upright broad spreading evergreen whose crown usually assumes a conical outline. Spreading branches hold the foliage which is very substantial. To 18′ tall and half as wide in 10 years. Best in a protected location, out of east wind, on the edge of a woodland or near a house. The large flowers truly are a spectacle and emit a light sweet fragrance. Full sun to high overstory shade in rich soil with occasional deep soaks in summer. Grows 1′-3′ per year and faster with attention to water. More tender as a youngster gaining full cold hardiness with age. Established trees endure 5ºF by losing many leaves- they can also disappear in particularly enthusiastic bloom seasons but it regains foliage very fast by early spring. Excellent performance at the Oregon Coast. Very elegant tree. Chile/Argentina.
Ceanothus thyrsiflorus ‘Oregon Mist’
Greg and I found this distinctive form of Coast Blue Blossom in the wild. This species ranges from Lane County, Oregon to Santa Barbara County, California. A fast growing seral species that follows fire and disturbance. Very near the location where we discovered this handsome small tree was to the largest Ceanothus thyrsiflorus ever discovered in 1925- it was nearly 30′ tall. This is a large and fast growing evergreen tree with copious amounts of scintillating flowers. It has smaller deep green leaves and huge trusses of soft turquoise flowers in late April to early June. A tall growing tree/shrub that attains heights of 15′ very quickly if allowed. This drought tolerant native takes very well to pruning too- which should be done after blooming. Full sun and average well drained soil- including clay soils. Little to no summer water when established. Excellent for use as an instant screen or informal hedgerow. Pretty in the background of dry borders. Loved by bees and butterflies in bloom. Very easy to grow native evergreen shrub that should be used more. Life span 15-20 years. Oregon native plant.
Xera Plants Introduction.
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
Ceanothus thyrsiflorus ‘Umpqua Sky’
A very large growing, vigorous and pretty tree type Ceanothus native to the extreme SW part of the state. This fast growing evergreen tree (3′-4′ per year) puts on a huge display of soft blue flowers in late April to early June. Full sun to light shade (high overhead shade) and average soil that drains. Adaptable to clay soils, especially on slopes and not watered at all in summer. Completely drought adapted, no water necessary once established. To 18′ tall and half as wide in 7 years. Great screen, blue flowered tree that is beautiful in bloom but fades to a background for the rest of the year. Prodigious pruning can keep it much lower and it makes a great large hedge in no time. Good cold hardiness to 5ºF. We chose this variety in the wild because it was found quite a bit away from the coast which increases cold hardiness and it was immensely heavy in bloom. Prune AFTER flowering if needed. As a hedge or smaller plant it only requires pruning once a year- especially if strictly unwatered. Extraordinarily heavy bloomer and the trusses of flowers are often divided into six or more sub-branches for a very full look in bloom. Pairs well with Madrone and Arctostaphylos. Oregon native plant.
Xera Plants Introduction
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.
Chitalpa x tashkentensis ‘White Dawn’
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.
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.
Glorybower. Iconic in the city of Portland this small umbrella shaped tree lines streets and populates gardens throughout the city. Late summer brings masses of white flowers held in a red calyx that perfume the area for many blocks with a sweet jasmine fragrance. Following the flowers the calyx swells to a red star and a turquoise blue berry forms. To 16′ tall moderately fast in full sun and rich soil with regular summer irrigation. Avoid disturbance around established trees which can cause it to sucker annoyingly. Large tropical leaves have the fragrance of peanut butter when bruised. Little to no fall color. Completely intolerant of shade. Do not even try. Japan.
Clethra barbinervis ‘Takaeda Nishiki’
Variegated form of Japanese summer sweet with amazing white splashed foliage and masses of powerfully fragrant white flowers all summer. To 10′ tall moderately fast in part shade to full sun in rich, moisture retentive soil. Regular summer water. In time it forms a trunk that displays mottled exfoliating bark which is very pretty. . Wonderful woodland tree that endures full sun with regular irrigation. Light yellow fall color. Graceful at all times. Nice branching pattern in symmetrical whorls. The clusters of flowers dry and cling to the tree in winter. These can be removed by the fastidious gardener or left to hang and decompose with the effect of spanish moss. Blooms continuously most of the summer. The clusters of pendant white flowers emit an intoxicating perfume that is most notable on warm to hot days. It will perfume the entire garden- its not a cloying sweetness either but a much more sophisticated aroma that has you seeking more. Water regularly, not drought adapted. Lovely, lovely specimen tree. Avoid hot dry sites.
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