Sunday, June 26, 2016


Tillandsias have become very popular house plants - and for good reasons. They are easy to care for, inexpensive and come in a variety of foliage and flower colors.

Tillandsias are air plants, members of the Bromeliad family. They are native to Central and South America, the southern US and the Caribbean. They do not require soil or special planters. You can display them in whatever bowl or container suits your imagination.

The three key requirements for these plants are:

  • Water - these plants draw what they need from moisture in the air and the water you give them. Give them a quick soak, 5 minutes or so, two or three times a week, depending on how dry or humid your home is. Once or twice a month, add a Bromeliad or other water soluble fertilizer to the water, following package directions. 
  • Light - tillandsias like bright light, so put them near a sunny window. They can take direct sunlight in winter months and filtered sunlight in summer. 
  • Air circulation - tillandsias need good air circulation. They need to be in a spot where they can dry out completely within four hours of being watered. 

Sunday, June 12, 2016

A Dozen Evergreen Trees for Small Gardens

Strawberry Tree flowers and fruit
1. Arbutus unedo 'Compacta' - Compact strawberry tree
Size: 8' tall by 8' wide
Comments: Related to our native madrone tree; peeling, reddish bark; dark green foliage; clusters of white, bell-shaped flowers in spring; red fruit in fall resembling strawberries
2. Chamaecyparis nootkatensis 'Pendula' - Weeping Alaska cedar
Size: to 20' tall; width variable
Comments: Choose carefully to get the tree shape you want; some are pencil-shaped, others spread 6- 8' wide; yellow-green foliage; weeping habit; Northwest native tree
3. Chamaecyparis obtusa 'Gracilis' - Slender Hinoki cypress
Size: to 20' tall x 5-6' wide
Comments: There are several types of Hinoki cypress, all beautiful, small trees that work well in urban gardens; dark green flat sprays of foliage with nodding tips; some varieties have gold edged new foliage; slow growing
4. Cryptomeria japonica 'Elegans Compacta' - Plume cedar
Size: to 15' tall
Comments: 'Elegans Compacta' is much smaller than the species; grey-green foliage turns coppery-red or purple in cold weather
5. Cupressus sempervirens - Italian cypress
Size: 25' tall x 3' wide
Comments: 'Glauca' - blue Italian cypress has bluish foliage; 'Stricta' is green, also very narrow. These are classic Mediterranean garden trees; great accents
6. Garrya eliptica 'Issaquahensis' - Coast silk tassel
Size: 10' tall to 20' wide
Comments: Northwest native tree; hard to find but well worth the search; 10" long catkins in winter, very striking
7. Laurus nobilis - Sweet bay
Size: 12' - 20' tall and wide, depending on conditions
Comments: Once this tree gets going, you'll have all the bay leaves you'll ever need for cooking; upright, column-shaped tree with aromatic leaves; good in containers
8. Magnolia 'Little Gem' 
Size: up to 20' tall x 8' wide
Comments: Column shape; glossy green leaves with brown, felty undersides; creamy white flowers in summer
9. Pinus contorta contorta- Shore pine
Size: 20-30' tall and wide
Comments: Northwest native tree; open growth habit; takes sea coast conditions well, gets its name "contorta" because of the shape these trees take in the winds off the water; tolerates salt spray
10. Pinus flexuosa 'Vanderwolf' - Vanderwolf pine
Size: 18'+ tall x 6-8' wide
Comments: Dense, pyramidal shape, blue-green foliage
11. Pinus strobus 'Nana' - Dwarf white pine
Size: to 7' tall x 5' wide
Comments: Very slow growing; long needles with bluish cast; graceful; may have weeping habit
12. Tsuga mertensiana - Mountain hemlock
Size: 20 ' tall x 8-10' wide
Comments: Graceful, layered growth habit; blue green foliage; very slow growing; native to high mountains from Alaska to the Sierras in California; does best with some protection from hot western sun exposure