Sunday, January 25, 2009
Garrya Elliptica or Bust
This is the third time I'm trying to grow Garrya elliptica, Silk Tassel Bush. I admire its wavy, leathery leaves and luxuriant growth, and of course the pretty dangling whitish catkins that give it its name. But I haven't managed to make it feel welcome in my garden yet. The first one I planted years ago, at the edge of our redwood grove, to create a a bit of a privacy screen by the road. I was a rookie then indeed. Watering involved dragging a hose 50 feet through the redwoods. It didn't get enough water. So next time I planted it closer to a hose bib, and I put a gopher basket below and I watered it well. It just sat there and died. I think that location was just too baking hot and sunny.
I really want to grow a Garrya. Or maybe 20.
They are indigenous to my coastal region though I haven't seen one around here. So they fit the mission of habitat restoration in the larger sense. And they are gorgeous.
What I've learned: I need to give a Garrya a bit extra water - it says so on all the pages, Las Pilitas web site, Wikipedia, etc - and put it in a place where it has some shade. And here's a clue: if you do an image Google, most of the sites are in the U.K.
Yesterday I went to a private suburban home in Santa Clara with my pruning class, taught this week by the excellent and skilled Michael Young of Urban Tree Management. And behold - a 15 foot tall luxuriant hedge of four or five Garrya elliptica that generously accommodated 25 pruning students eager to practice on its leafy boughs. I wish I had taken a picture.
Where was it growing? Right next to a neighbor's regularly watered lawn, with some afternoon sun and shade the rest of the day.
I returned from the trip with booty! Tips enough for 20 cuttings. I had some nice moist potting mix ready - a bit richer mix than the seedlings, just because I didn't have much sand or Perlite left. I potted them up with a dab of rooting powder on each. Where to put them so I can baby them and keep them well coddled? Well I decided on my bathroom floor for now. I'll see if I can rig up a plastic tent for them to keep their environment moist and as unchallenging as possible, while their little rootie-tooties can wiggle and grow. Come on babies! Grow for mama!