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!


Northern Shade said…
Good luck with the new Garrya cuttings. It sounds like you have their requirements worked out now. Perhaps you will end up with a luxurious hedge, longer than the one you pruned.
We'll all be waiting to see the results...however long it takes:) I hope things will work out for you THIS time! Hopefully the saying 'third time's a charm' will be true, in your case;)
Town Mouse said…
We're all rooting for you Country Mouse!! ;->
Philip Bewley said…
That is the way to do it! With so many plants, the law of averages is that you are sure to get someting! I agree, this is such a wonderful native plant!
best regards,
GardenJoy4Me said…
Hello there .. I'm not familar with this plant but it sounds quite nice (probably not for my 5b zone ?) .. I didn't mind at all about your comment on the Google translator .. I appreciate any input about these sort of things.
So, thank you for being honest with your take on the gadget.
Best of luck with the little babies there .. I'm sure this time you will be successful : ) Joy
Great information and I'm glad you got some useful cuttings from the seminar. I love "takeaways" like this!