Articles in Category: Trees

Edible Figs

on Wednesday, 16 September 2020. Posted in Edible, Deer Resistant, Trees, Shrubs, Drought Tolerant

Fig trees

figsFigs are native to the Fertile Crescent region of the Middle East and thrive in our hot, dry summers. These rich, almost decadent-tasting fruits are also surprisingly undemanding, low-maintenance plants. They’re fast growing, begin bearing fruit at just two years old, and will often bear two crops a year. Few pests (including deer!) bother them. Figs enjoy well-drained soils and only require deep, infrequent watering once they’re established. They're also self fertile, and are actually pollinated on the inside of the fruit by a special wasp.

Here in the Rogue Valley, figs tend to grow more as tall, multi-trunked shrubs than full-sized trees. That’s actually an asset for home gardeners, because it makes their fruit easier to harvest. Plants bear fruit primarily on year-old growth, and are most productive when pruned annually in mid-winter. A harsh winter in the first few years of being planted can cause a fig to have some branch die back. They are quick to rebound from the roots though once warm weather returns. Give them as much heat as possible to enhance their ripening.

figleavesWe carry a good assortment of figs here at Shooting Star Nursery, and always try to carry varieties that are more likely to ripen in our shorter heat season, compared to several better-known types that perform better in California. Our selection generally includes dwarf and semi-dwarf varieties like Olympian, Little Ruby, Stella, and Black Jack (perfect for small yards); Pacific Northwest specialties like Desert King; and old favorites like Brown Turkey and Peter’s Honey.

 blackjack 2012What can you do with the abundance of figs you’re already imagining harvesting? That’s where the fun really begins. Figs can be eaten fresh off the tree (make sure they are quite soft before picking), dried, or turned into a variety of tasty jams and preserves. But why stop there? Fire up your broiler or grill and try broiled figs stuffed with goat cheese and drizzled with a balsamic reduction. Or make your own dolmas!  See what we mean about decadent?

Here are a few of the varieties we generally have in stock:

Black Spanish - Dark purple skin w/sweet amber flesh, reliable & productive, naturally dwarf
Brown Turkey – Medium-large fruit, sweet purplish/brown skin w/light pink flesh
Chicago Hardy – Medium fruit, brown to violet skin w/strawberry pink flesh, excellent flavor
Desert King - Large, green skin w/strawberry flesh, can bear 2 crops
Little Ruby – Medium fruit, reddish-brown skin w/ruby flesh, prolific bearer, dwarf variety
Olympian - Super hardy, purple skin w/red flesh, very sweet, dwarf variety
Peter's Honey - Deliciously sweet, yellow/green skin w/amber flesh, likes hot/protected exposure

Ginkgo biloba

on Thursday, 24 September 2020. Posted in Winter Interest, Showy Bark/Stems, Fall Color, Trees

Maidenhair Tree

Autumn goldWhen most people think of fall color, their minds immediately go to the bright scarlets of maples and oaks. But we’re guessing that’s probably just because they’ve never seen a Ginkgo tree in its full fall color.

Ginkgos – or Maidenhair Trees - turn a rich, buttery gold in fall. They’re especially stunning when planted against a backdrop of dark green conifers. When the leaves finally do drop, they tend to do so all at once, forming a brilliant golden carpet around the base of the tree. They’re also tolerant of air pollution and a wide variety of soil types; making them valuable as a tough, long-lived street tree that works well in both urban or rural situations.

Big ginkgoThey’re also one of the oldest tree species in the world. Ginkgo leaves have been found in fossils that date back to over 250 million years ago, which means they were around when dinosaurs still walked the earth!

Ginkgos tend to be a long-lived, low-maintenance tree. They like at least a half-day sun, but will do fine in full sun as well. Once established. Trees do fine with deep, infrequent watering. Young trees tend to be slow growing, but once established they can put on 1-2’/year

We regularly carry the following varieties of Ginkgo here at Shooting Star Nursery:

Autumn Gold – Broadly pyramidal, 45’ by 35’. Angular, linear branches

Golden Colonnade – 45’x 25’, narrow, oval shape

Princeton Sentry – The most tightly columnar of the group – 40’ x 15’. Stiffly upright, narrow, pyramidal shape

Parrotia persica

on Friday, 18 September 2020. Posted in Winter Interest, Showy Bark/Stems, Fall Color, Trees

Persian Ironwood

parrotia persica logiegarden ras 09 2011 03 gpp fallParrotia persica – or Persian Ironwood – is one of the fall foliage season’s best-kept secrets – and that’s a real shame. If you’d like to broaden your yard’s fall color palette beyond the usual flaming red maples, we’d highly recommend this tree!

Parrotia flowerIn fact, Parrotia provides true four-season interest in the landscape. In late winter, tiny red flowers – similar to witch hazel flowers – appear, followed by bronzy-colored new leaves. As the leaves unfurl, they turn a rich green, providing a nice dense canopy of shade during the summer months.

parrotia persica ras 04 2012 01 gpp barkFall, though, is when Parrotias really begin to shine; putting a great show of color, with foliage turning shades of yellow, orange, and red. Even when the leaves drop, there’s still plenty to look at. As Parrotias mature, their bark begins to exfoliate; leaving dappled patches of color along the trunk.

A small to medium-sized shade tree, Parrotia will get between 20-30’ tall, and about 20’ wide. They’re generally unfussy trees and are tolerant of a wide variety of conditions, including clay soil and air pollution. Their compact size also makes them great street trees.

Looking for something narrower to fit into a small space? There are two varieties of Parrotia that will do the trick! Persian Spire gets about 25’ tall, and just 10’ wide; growing in a lovely upright, columnar shape. Vanessa is a bit larger: about 28’ by 14’, and was given an Award of Garden Excellence by Britain’s Royal Horticultural Society in 2020.

Edible Figs (Copy)

on Wednesday, 16 September 2020. Posted in Edible, Deer Resistant, Trees, Shrubs, Drought Tolerant

Fig trees

figsFigs are native to the Fertile Crescent region of the Middle East and thrive in our hot, dry summers. These rich, almost decadent-tasting fruits are also surprisingly undemanding, low-maintenance plants. They’re fast growing, begin bearing fruit at just two years old, and will often bear two crops a year. Few pests (including deer!) bother them. Figs enjoy well-drained soils and only require deep, infrequent watering once they’re established. They're also self fertile, and are actually pollinated on the inside of the fruit by a special wasp.

Here in the Rogue Valley, figs tend to grow more as tall, multi-trunked shrubs than full-sized trees. That’s actually an asset for home gardeners, because it makes their fruit easier to harvest. Plants bear fruit primarily on year-old growth, and are most productive when pruned annually in mid-winter. A harsh winter in the first few years of being planted can cause a fig to have some branch die back. They are quick to rebound from the roots though once warm weather returns. Give them as much heat as possible to enhance their ripening.

figleavesWe carry a good assortment of figs here at Shooting Star Nursery, and always try to carry varieties that are more likely to ripen in our shorter heat season, compared to several better-known types that perform better in California. Our selection generally includes dwarf and semi-dwarf varieties like Olympian, Little Ruby, Stella, and Black Jack (perfect for small yards); Pacific Northwest specialties like Desert King; and old favorites like Brown Turkey and Peter’s Honey.

 blackjack 2012What can you do with the abundance of figs you’re already imagining harvesting? That’s where the fun really begins. Figs can be eaten fresh off the tree (make sure they are quite soft before picking), dried, or turned into a variety of tasty jams and preserves. But why stop there? Fire up your broiler or grill and try broiled figs stuffed with goat cheese and drizzled with a balsamic reduction. Or make your own dolmas!  See what we mean about decadent?

Here are a few of the varieties we generally have in stock:

Black Spanish - Dark purple skin w/sweet amber flesh, reliable & productive, naturally dwarf
Brown Turkey – Medium-large fruit, sweet purplish/brown skin w/light pink flesh
Chicago Hardy – Medium fruit, brown to violet skin w/strawberry pink flesh, excellent flavor
Desert King - Large, green skin w/strawberry flesh, can bear 2 crops
Little Ruby – Medium fruit, reddish-brown skin w/ruby flesh, prolific bearer, dwarf variety
Olympian - Super hardy, purple skin w/red flesh, very sweet, dwarf variety
Peter's Honey - Deliciously sweet, yellow/green skin w/amber flesh, likes hot/protected exposure

Vitex agnus-castus

on Wednesday, 22 July 2020. Posted in Good for Screening, Winter Interest, Attracts Pollinators, Deer Resistant, Trees, Shrubs, Drought Tolerant, Flowering Plants

Chaste Tree

Vitex edThis drought tolerant Mediterranean native absolutely thrives here in the Rogue Valley! Vitex needs consistent heat in order to bloom profusely, and our long hot summers give them exactly what they like. From mid-summer into early fall, Vitex is covered with long spikes of flowers ranging in color from soft lavender to dark blue. The blooms slowly open from the base to the tips, eventually reaching up to 12 inches long and lasting at least 4 to 5 weeks; attracting bees and hummingbirds from far and wide.

VitexFlipSide editVitex’s fragrant leaves are very attractive in their own right. Their shape is similar to a lace leaf Japanese Maple; and are a lovely shade of soft blue-green. Most varieties are gray-green underneath, but Flip Side features a dark purple reverse – making them truly stunning in a breeze. As an extra bonus, the fragrance helps make this plant quite deer resistant.

One of the fun things about Vitex is that you can grow it into whatever form you like, multi-trunk or single trunk tree, or a large, broad shrub. The straight species, and varieties like Shoal Creek get about 10-15’ tall and wide. Varieties like Flip Side and Delta Blues are smaller – maybe 8-10’ tall and wide at maturity. Vitex bloom on new wood, so they take very well to a severe pruning, even all the way back to the ground if needed. We have also seen them be used successfully in large containers against hot walls and parking lots.

Vitex grow slower with drought conditions and grow fairly rapidly with regular water and richer soil, but will tolerate both conditions well. We have been very impressed with the cold hardiness and drought tolerance of these shrubs as well as their many uses. Vitex are one of the few choices for a small tree or large shrub that thrives in the heat and has lovely blooms late in the season!