Trees

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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Cool Plants at Xera Plants Opening Day 2017

Cool Plants at Xera Plants Opening Day 2017

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Portland has had a horrendous winter. Multiple ice storms, lower than average temperatures, and a single freak snowstorm that dumped nearly a foot of snow have taken a toll, and not just on our spirits. Plants have been heaved out of the ground, broken in two, killed outright by cold. This is good news for nurseries, as people will be… 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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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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Dove Trees in Bloom (Davidia involucrata)

Dove Trees in Bloom (Davidia involucrata)

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Dove trees are blooming here in the Willamette Valley on this fine late April day (we’re having a heat wave, so they’re a little early), and they’re making a spectacular show. The dove tree, a.k.a. handkerchief tree, ghost tree, laundry tree, or Davidia involucrata, is a rare and exquisite tree with a great story to boot. Once classified in the black gum… Read more →


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The Golden Spruce by John Vaillant: A Book Review

The Golden Spruce by John Vaillant: A Book Review

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Recently, I sat down to take a peek at The Golden Spruce by John Vaillant. It had been recommended to me, and I’d just gotten it from the library, but I had things to do, so I decided to just read a little bit to quell my curiosity. Five hours later, it was 11:30 p.m., and I was debating whether or… Read more →


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Trees with the Coolest Bark

Trees with the Coolest Bark

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Ah, January. Not much going on in the garden. Witch hazels are blooming, and a few camellias. In colder zones, there’s nothing blooming at all. It was -16°F last Monday in my hometown in Minnesota. The record for that day is -42°F. Bark takes center stage this time of year as we look harder to find beauty in the landscape…. Read more →


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The Spiral Goes Viral: Topiary in the Suburbs

The Spiral Goes Viral: Topiary in the Suburbs

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Before I realized that horticulture was my true calling, I was a sociology student with plans to become a professor of sociology. Then I discovered my love for plants. I left grad school after getting my master’s degree and took an entry level job at a nursery. There haven’t been many times when my old world and new world have met,… Read more →


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Into the Woods

Into the Woods

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I finally got around to reading Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder by Richard Louv. That’s right—yesterday was a beautiful rare sunny day in early November, and I was sitting on the couch reading a book about how people don’t go outside anymore. So I was inspired to go to nearby Powell Butte Nature Park and… Read more →


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