Friday, 31 January 2020

Garrya elliptica

via wiki
A favourite winter shrub in our garden is the Garrya elliptica, also known as the silk tassel tree. It's catkins are one of winter's delights, and this year the shrub is covered with them.

Garrya is a small genus distributed along North America's western coastlands, from Mexico to Oregon. Garrya elliptica, the hardiest species and the one best suited to the British climate, was introduced to us by Scottish plant hunter David Douglas in 1828. He named the plants after the Hudson Bay Company's Nicholas Garry, who helped Douglas with his forays in western USA.
Garryas enjoy growing in well drained soil in full sun or partial shade. They dislike root disturbance and once planted and established will often die if they are transplanted elsewhere. It is, therefore, important to site them in an ideal situation from the beginning. The protection of a north or east facing wall often proves to be an ideal location for them in this country.
It is best to purchase a male plant as their catkins are far more showy and attractive than the ones seen on a female plant.  The male catkins hang together in elegant pendulous clusters, are about 6ins - 8ins long, and gently swing to and fro in a breeze. 

42 comments:

  1. This is a wonderful tree, and I have never seen anything like it. The botanical painting is as beautiful as the gorgeous tassels on your tree.

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    1. It is a particular delight to see at this more dormant time of year.

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  2. I wonder whether Douglas Fir was named after this same David Douglas. I will do some checking. As Patrica point out the painting is beautiful.

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    1. John has very kindly supplied the answer to your query - yes, you are right, the Douglas Fir is named after him.

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  3. Oh my! It looks like it has been decorated with beautiful tassels. Yours must love it's location, it is just gorgeous!

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    1. I must admit that when we planted it over 20years ago we didn't check out whether the location was suitable or not, but having placed it besides one of our garden walls facing east has proved to be the perfect location.

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  4. I've seen these but didn't know the name before. It's certainly a beautiful shrub. There's an brief biography of Douglas here:
    https://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.uk/usbiography/d/daviddouglas.html
    He had an interesting life (and death).

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    1. Thanks John - I enjoyed reading that - we have a wonderful legacy here from those early Victorian plant hunters.

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  5. Hello Rosemary, I never thought I wanted a garden (beyond that implicit in an orchard) but every time you post a new plant from yours, I find myself changing my mind.
    --Jim
    p.s. Recently while looking at some old photos I found I recognized a picture of John Bright, although I knew nothing about him. Looking him up, I find he was quite a remarkable individual and British politician. These days it seems that the John Brights of the world are becoming rarer and rarer.

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    1. Hello Jim - I enjoyed reading about John Bright, a person I knew nothing about either - at this particular moment in our history i.e on the brink of leaving the EU, I found it interesting to learn that he was a promoter of free trade policies.

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  6. Outstanding beauty for a tree - and one I'm not familiar with. Your closeup of the 'tassels' shows such lovely colors, really pretty. Wonder if it would would do well here - might not enjoy our hot, humid summers!

    Enjoy your weekend dear friend - hope it's bright and beautiful in the Cotswolds.

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    1. Apparently there are other Garrya trees Mary which could be more suited to your garden - after all is an American tree. It is mild here at the moment, but also gloomy, although we did have one really lovely day this week.
      Hope you enjoy a lovely weekend too.

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  7. Replies
    1. Apparently the word catkin comes from Middle Dutch katteken, meaning "kitten" [also from the German word Kätzchen]. The name is due either to its resemblance to long catkins resembling a kitten's tail, or to the fine fur found on some catkins. Found this thanks to google.

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  8. Oh it's beautiful! We go to garden centres, but I've never even seen or heard of one. Our garden is south facing and sunny, but our soil is very loose and sandy, but gets very thick and claggy when it rains. I tried to do a bit of weeding last week, but gave up after 15 minutes! Best, Jane x

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    1. I can't remember where I bought it from, but I don't think that they are found in the everyday nursery centres, but more specialised ones.

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    2. Would you believe I HAVE seen one, I just never noticed it! When we walk to my dad's there's a tree that overhangs the pavement and as I passed it the other day I suddenly noticed the unusual catkins and thought; that's it! How many times I've walked passed it and just never noticed. I shall take a photo. Thanks again, Rosemary x

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  9. Dearest Rosemary,
    Wow, what a winter beauty indeed and funny enough, I've never heard of this Garrya elliptica before...
    Is it fragrant too?
    What a joy for winter time. Our Japanese Magnolias are budding out, especially in the top of the tree which gets the most of the early morning sun. Hope they will not brown from late frost...
    Hugs,
    Mariette

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    1. Dear Mariette - sadly it does not have any fragrance that I am aware of - glad that your Japanese Magnolias are now in bud and I hope that the frosts stay away from your corner of the world.

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  10. It is definitely one I've never heard of before.

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    1. Very few people appear to have either seen or heard of it.

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  11. Not seen that before. You must be a good gardener.

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    1. Sometimes it is just luck finding the right plant for the right spot.

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  12. Gorgeous. Thanks for introducing it to me!

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  13. Beautiful they are.
    Some people do grow these here but more so on the farms in their gardens.

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    1. They are apparently drought tolerant which must help them to survive in your area.

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  14. What a wonderful plant. I had not heard of it.

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    1. It is really looking very good this winter.

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  15. Dear Rosemary,
    I wonder if your catkin can be cut and placed in water. It would make for a very interesting and beautiful arrangement in a vase when paired with other branches and/or flowers.

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    1. Dear Gina - that is something that I had not considered doing but with your suggestion I will now give it a try.

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  16. Spectacular plant , a pride in any garden !

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    1. It is a particular pleasure to have in the garden at this time of year.

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  17. What a unique and beautiful shrub. I had to do a little more research since I live on the west coast and have never seen such a shrub. It's native quite a bit further south than our location, and I wonder if it would be hardy here. The protecting wall would like be necessary here, too, as our latitudes vary by about 3 degrees.

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    1. I image that it would grow alright for you Lorrie. The posts I have seen showing your garden over the years reveal a climate quite similar to ours. If you give the Garrya a try, then the 'elliptica' would be the one to buy.
      I found this reference to it growing in Vancouver here:-
      https://vancouverislandgrows.wordpress.com/2016/02/05/garrya-elliptica/

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  18. What a spectacle in the garden! Silk tassel tree is an apt naming, which is shown by the third photo. I can see and feel silk touch in their exquisite beauty. Personally I prefer local name to science name. It’s interesting to know how it got a name.

    Yoko

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    1. Yes, I too like the common name of this shrub, it describes it really well. Hope all is well with you.

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  19. WOW!!! This is outstanding Rosemary!!!
    Cheers!
    Linda :o)

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    1. Glad that you enjoyed seeing it Linda - I hoping that all is going well for you.

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