Arbutus unedo 'Compacta'

on Tuesday, 14 December 2021. Posted in Good for Screening, Winter Interest, Berries Attract Wildlife, Showy Bark/Stems, Attracts Pollinators, Evergreen, Shrubs, Drought Tolerant, Flowering Plants

Compact Strawberry Tree

arbutus-unedo-plant-of-the-

Compact Strawberry Tree is one of our favorites for so many reasons: it can tolerate sun or shade, is drought tolerant, provides fall flowers for the hummingbirds, has long lasting, spectacularly colored fruit and wonderfully shaggy bark - and it's also evergreen!

You can easily see how this relative of our native Madrone and Manzanitas gets its common name of Strawberry Tree. The orange and red fruits resemble strawberries, and although the fruit is technically edible, they are more for suited wildlife as they are bland and mealy in texture (Fun fact: the species name unedo is a combination of the Latin words unum meaning "one" and edo meaning "eat" resulting in "I eat only one", in reference to the technically edible, but distinctly untasty fruit!).

Arbutus medThe honey scented, pinkish-white, urn-shaped flowers can appear from fall into early spring and the fruits often come on at the same time or not long after. As with many other fruiting shrubs, some years seem to have heavier fruit set than others - but the fruits are so decorative and long lasting that they don't qualify as messy. With leathery, dark green, oblong leaves, reddish new stems and shaggy auburn bark it is handsome all year.

Compact Strawberry Tree is not the fastest growing evergreen shrub, but it will grow steadily to 5-7' tall and wide (eventually larger). With annual pruning it can be kept tighter and smaller. This is one of those rare plants that is happy in sun or part shade making it a great choice for a hedge with varied conditions. It is also tolerant of various climates and soils.

Arbutus2 treeLooking for something a bit taller, but with all the same great attributes as the Compact Strawberry Tree? The full-sized species - Arbutus unedo - gets about 10-15’ tall and wide at maturity. In its native habitat (Britain and the Mediterranean), Arbutus unedo usually grows as a multitrunked plant, but we also carry single-trunked specimens which make a really lovely small tree.

Arbutus flower and fruitWe have some planted on the north side of our house that have done wonderfully with no supplemental water after their first year and even survived the 7-degree winter with no damage! In extreme cold they will show some damage; so best to plant where they are not completely exposed to cold winds. The winter of 2013, where we got to zero degrees for several nights, proved fatal to some Arbutus and some rebounded after suffering damage on top.

Arbutus unedo 'Compacta' is great in foundation plantings or hedges. You will be hard-pressed to find an evergreen shrub with more year-round interest - plus the hummingbirds will thank you for providing a much-needed winter nectar source!

Distylium

on Thursday, 09 December 2021. Posted in Evergreen, Deer Resistant, Shrubs, Drought Tolerant

Winter Hazel

Distylium2Distylium isn’t a ‘household name’ sort of plant yet – but it should be! It offers Rogue Valley gardeners a great alternative to some of the standard (but often overused) evergreen shrubs like Boxwood, Raphiolepis, Holly, and Skip Laurel.

Not only is Distylium low-maintenance, drought tolerant, and deer resistant; but it also tolerates clay soils well, and is a lovely and graceful-looking shrub. Its leaves are a glossy, rich green and slightly elongated.

Distylium flowersDistylium is related to Witch Hazels (one of its common names is Winter Hazel), and like Witch Hazels they have tiny, exquisite reddish flowers that line the branches in late winter and early spring. They aren’t the sort of flowers that put on a show from a distance, but they’re delightful to see close-up!

Shooting Star Nursery carries several different varieties; giving you a nice range of options for size and shape. There’s basically a Distylium for virtually every place in your garden that needs an evergreen shrub! We generally have the following varieties in stock:

Distylium Emerald HeightsEmerald Heights: Dark green, glossy foliage. Compact with a rounded, spreading shape. 5’ x 5’.

Swing Low: The shortest of the Distylium varieties we carry – about 2-3’ tall by 4-6’ wide.

Vintage Jade: Lovely, layered-looking branches give it a gentle, graceful look (a quality not often associated with evergreen shrubs…). Grows into a spreading, mounded shape – about 3’ tall by 4’ wide.

Distylium LinebackerLinebacker: A taller variety (8-10’ tall by 6-8’ wide), making it a really nice option as a hedge plant. Upright and dense, new growth is reddish-orange, which gradually turns green as the leaves mature.

Distylium grows best in full sun to light shade. These plants are generally disease-free and very low maintenance. A bit of light tip-pruning once a year will help keep plants nice and dense, but even that’s not necessary!

Large Conifers

on Thursday, 09 December 2021. Posted in Winter Interest, Conifer, Deer Resistant

Full-sized Conifers: For Christmas and Beyond!

This week, we're going to talk about the big guys: iconic conifers that will reach over 60' tall at maturity. Most of these conifers are also fast-growing. There's something pretty magical about seeing a big healthy conifer in your yard and thinking back to the year you planted it as a small living Christmas tree. If you've got the room, we highly recommend these beauties - and they're all native to the west coast; four out of the five listed here can be found growing wild in Oregon!

 

PonderosaPonderosa Pine: Ponderosas are the classic pine here in southwest Oregon. They're stately-looking trees with dark green needles and dark, flaky bark. The biggest Ponderosa Pine in the state (268' tall) can be found growing in the Big Pine Campground, northwest of Grants Pass. Ponderosa Pines growing in your yard won't get that tall, but you can expect them to easily reach 60' to 100'.

 

Incense CedarIncense Cedar: Incense Cedars get their name from their wonderfully aromatic bark. They're lovely trees with rich green needles and reddish bark, and will happily grow in drier sites than most of the other trees mentioned here. They will probably reach a height of 60' - 70' when grown in your yard, but can get much larger in the wild. One of the largest Incense Cedars in the world - the Tanner Lakes Titan - is from right here in Jackson County, and is over 137', with an amazing dbh (diameter at breast height) of 12.8'!

  

Douglas fir coneDouglas-fir: Douglas-fir is the Oregon State Tree and is named for pioneering botanist David Douglas. Almost everyone is familiar with them as cut Christmas trees, so rather than include a photo of the tree itself, this photo shows the distinctive cones. They'll reach 80' to 100+' in the home landscape. Visitors to the Oregon Caves Big Tree trail have had a chance to see a 600-800 year-old Douglas-fir with the widest girth in the state.

  

Giant SequoiaGiant Sequoia: This is the only plant on the list that isn't native to Oregon, but they do grow well here. The biggest Giant Sequoia on the planet is the General Sherman Tree in Sequoia National Forest, which is around 275' tall, with a 100' crown. In the home garden, expect a mature height of about 100'. Young trees are fast growing, and have a densely pyramidal shape with soft-looking bluish green needles. 

 

 Coast RedwoodCoast Redwood: Anyone who has ever driven along Highway 199 to the coast is familiar with these majestic trees. Coast Redwoods require a bit more water than the other trees listed here (think of the climate they grow in!), and will do especially well if planted along a creek or near a pond. Your tree will likely reach 100' or so tall at maturity. The biggest Coast Redwood in the world is 'Hyperion' - which grows in Redwood National and State Parks in Del Norte County. It measures a stunning 397' tall, making it the tallest tree in the world!

  

Shooting Star Nursery regularly carries all these trees, albeit in much smaller sizes than listed above! If you like the idea of planting a tree as a living legacy, this might just be the year to plant one of these beautiful conifers. 

Compact Conifers

on Thursday, 09 December 2021. Posted in Winter Interest, Conifer, Deer Resistant

A Selection of Dwarf and Compact Conifers

Compact conifers - which range in size from 6' to 20' tall - are the perfect-sized plant for a small to mid-sized yard. They're large enough to make a statement but are a much more manageable size than large conifers, which can reach heights of 60-80' tall!

As we mentioned in our last Plant of the Week article, compact conifers never really stop growing - it's just that most of them grow fairly slowly and will remain small for a long time. The sizes given in the plant descriptions below are a good representative of their likely size in 10-20 years. Here are a some of our favorite compact conifers:

Dwarf Alberta Spruce smDwarf Alberta Spruce: A dark green, columnar spruce. They are relatively slow growing (around 6"/year), and will reach 10 to 12’ tall by 4’ to 5’ wide in 10 years  

Tannenbaum

'Tannenbaum' Pine: 'Tannenbaum' is a taller variety of the popular Mugo Pine. They are dark green, with a dense pyramidal shape. Plants are moderate growing (6' to 12'/year) and will be approximately 10- 15’ tall by 6-12’ wide in 10 years.

  

Silberlocke Fir detail'Horstmann's Silberlocke' Fir: This is such a showy little fir! 'Horstmann's Silberlocke' features upcurved needles with a white underside (see photo to the left).  Plants have a moderate growth habit (generally 6" to 12"/year), and will be around 12’ by 8’,  in 10 years.

 

 Black Hills Spruce sm

'Black Hills' Spruce: ‘Black Hills’ Spruce is more heat tolerant than most other spruce, and has a nice greenish-blue color. They’re slow growing (generally less that 6”/year, and will reach 15-20’ tall by 10-15’ wide in 10 years. 

 

 Oregon Green Pine ed'Oregon Green' Pine: A lovely deep, rich green pine with a moderate growth rate (6-12”/year); likely reaching 18-20’ tall by 15’ wide in 10 years.  

  Picea pungens Hoopsi sm

'Hoopsi' Blue Spruce: ‘Hoopsi’ is the very bluest of blue spruces! Plants grow around 6-12”/year, and will generally be about 25’ tall by 15’ wide at maturity.

Dwarf and Compact Conifers

on Thursday, 09 December 2021. Posted in Winter Interest, Conifer, Deer Resistant

A Selection of Dwarf and Compact Conifers

We get a lot of requests for dwarf (under 6' tall) and compact (6' to 20' tall) conifers, and this is a great time of year to find a good selection of them here at Shooting Star Nursery!

Let's start with a word about conifer sizes. Like most conifers, these dwarf and compact conifers never really stop growing - it's just that most of them grow fairly slowly and will remain small for a long time. The sizes given in the plant descriptions below are a good representative of their likely size in 10-20 years. Here are a few of our favorite dwarf and compact conifer species:

Picea glauca Procumbens smProstrate Colorado Blue Spruce: A sweet, prostrate form of Colorado Blue Spruce (shown here with Wilma Goldcrest Cypress in the background. These plants will do well in the garden, or in a large containter, and respond well to selective pruning and shaping. Size: 2' tall by 5'-8' wide in 10 years.

  

Hornbrook Pine smHornbrook Pine: A lovely little dark green, dwarf pine; this variety started out as a 'witch's broom' on a standard Austrian Black Pine. They are medium growing (6 to 12"/year), and will reach 3-6' tall and wide in 10 years.

  

Divinely Blue cedar sm'Divinely Blue' Deodar Cedar: Do you love the graceful branches of Deodar Cedars, but can't find the room to accomodate an 80' tall tree? Consider this dwarf form! 'Divinely Blue' has the same blue-green needles of the full-sized Deodar Cedar, but forms a low mounding shape with nodding branch tips. Plants are slow-growing (less than 6"/year), and will measure roughly 2-6' by 3-6' in 10 years.

 

 

Chalet pine detail sm'Swiss Chalet' Stone Pine: This is a very showy and decorative-looking little pine. One of the things that makes it special is that its dark green needles have a white reverse side, which really makes tha plant "pop" in the garden. 'Swiss Chalet' has a moderate growth rate (6-12"/year), and will be 5-8' tall by 2-4' wide in 10 years. While 'Swiss Chalet' can tolerate full sun, it will look even better if you can provide it with a bit of afternoon shade.

 

 Fat Albert sm'Fat Albert' Blue Spruce: This tree is pretty much everything you have ever wanted in a Blue Spruce, and is one of our favorits here at Shooting Star! It's also a wonderful choice for a living Christmas tree. The needles are a lovely shade of blue-green, and ttrees have a chubby, densely pyramidal shape (hence the name). 'Fat Albert' is a fairly fast grower - often over 12"/year - and can reach sizes of 25' by 15' at maturity.

  

The Blues'The Blues' Weeping Blue Spruce: If you are looking for a truly striking specimen conifer that can provide a strong focal point in your garden, 'The Blues' Weeping Blue Spruce is a great choice. 'The Blues' has an irregular, weeping form - and no two plants are alike. They respond well to creating pruning and shaping, as you can see from the three shown to the right. Plants are relatively slow growing - generally around 6"/year, and will reach 6-8' tall by 2-4' wide in 10 years.