Foliage

Persian Ironwood (Parrotia persica): Love This Tree or Buyer's Remorse?

Persian Ironwood (Parrotia persica): Love This Tree or Buyer’s Remorse?

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I’m a slow shopper. It takes me ten minutes to pick out five apples at the grocery store. Now I’m trying to choose a tree for the parking strip, and that’s a major decision. I’ll have to live with it every day, you know? Persian ironwood, or Persian parrotia (Parrotia persica), is on my shortlist, and I’m weighing the pros… Read more →


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Whipcord Arborvitae: A Cool, Quirky Dwarf Conifer

Whipcord Arborvitae: A Cool, Quirky Dwarf Conifer

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‘Whipcord’ arborvitae (Thuja plicata ‘Whipcord’) is a cool, quirky dwarf conifer that has been on my wishlist for quite some time. Instead of the usual flattened sprays of foliage, this lovable mutant form of our native western arborvitae, or western red cedar, sports a mop top of long, skinny, green rat tails. It tops out at around 4 to 5 feet tall… Read more →


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A Visit with Roger Gossler of Gossler Farms Nursery

A Visit with Roger Gossler of Gossler Farms Nursery

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“That’s my favorite tree in the garden,” said Roger Gossler, as we gazed at a dazzling katsura tree in peak fall color at Gossler Farms Nursery in Springfield, Oregon. He said it was a Cercidiphyllum magnificum, not a Cercidiphyllum japonicum, as I had thought. I asked him what the difference was, and he said that C. magnificum stays smaller and has a more arching,… Read more →


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Fothergilla Fall Foliage Fiesta

Fothergilla Fall Foliage Fiesta

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When the crisp, cool days of autumn transform the garden into a fiesta of color, no shrub parties harder than fothergilla. In response to October’s increasingly frosty nights and shorter days, its matte blue-green foliage breaks out in jubilant tones of purple, gold, orange, and crimson, eventually culminating in an orange-red glow. Fothergilla is no slouch in the flower department, either, although… Read more →


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Seduced by Sassafras

Seduced by Sassafras

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Occasionally, somebody asks me that ridiculous question: “What’s your favorite tree?” As if I could choose just one. If pushed to decide, however, I usually find myself saying, “Sassafras.” Sassafras albidum is native from Massachusetts and Michigan in the north to the eastern edge of Oklahoma in the west and to North Florida in the south. It flourishes in the Cincinnati area,… Read more →


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12 Unusual Plants at McMenamins Edgefield

12 Unusual Plants at McMenamins Edgefield

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McMenamins Edgefield in Troutdale, Oregon is a former poor farm turned restaurant/hotel/brewery/winery/theater/golf course. Heck, they even have a glass-blowing studio. Of course, my favorite attraction is the incredible landscaping! Here are a dozen interesting and unusual plants I saw there this year while exploring the grounds (in chronological order, more or less). Pretty sure I killed this as a houseplant… Read more →


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Japanese Umbrella Pine (Sciadopitys): A Living Fossil

Japanese Umbrella Pine (Sciadopitys): A Living Fossil

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Until this winter, I only knew Japanese umbrella pine (Sciadopitys verticillata) as a handsome but dinky conifer I’d seen at garden centers selling for what could feed a family of four for a month. Then I learned in Phyllis Reynolds’ Trees of Greater Portland (Macrophyllum Press, 2013) that Portland is home to several mature specimens and that I could see this… Read more →


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Incense Cedar: Not Just Another Evergreen Tree

Incense Cedar: Not Just Another Evergreen Tree

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Birders sometimes use the term “LGB.” It stands for “Little Gray Birds” and is a shorthand way to note sightings of birds that are too unremarkable in plumage to ID. In the Pacific Northwest, we gardeners might adopt a similar lumping acronym: “BGC.” To the untrained eye, the bounty of evergreen trees here with soft sprays of foliage, like redcedars,… Read more →


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A Rainbow of (Borrowed) Autumn Leaves

A Rainbow of (Borrowed) Autumn Leaves

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They’re calling for gloom and doom tomorrow—ice and snow and more cold, blustery winds.  A shock to humans and plants alike, who’ve just enjoyed the warmest August, September, and October in recorded history in Portland. As of yesterday, there were still roses, dahlias, asters, and marigolds blooming, among others.  And fall color is still jamming, as you can see, though… Read more →


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Looking Down Instead of Up:  Autumn Leaves

Looking Down Instead of Up: Autumn Leaves

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Wait!  Before you rake those leaves up, let me get some pictures! Have you ever taken the time to truly appreciate the beauty of fallen leaves?  I took a walk today looking down instead of up, and this is what I saw: Red maple (Acer rubrum) leaves strewn across the sidewalk.  Not always red, their autumn leaves can also be orange… Read more →


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