Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Plant of the Week: Silk Tassel

It's one thing to drool over a photo or poetic description of a new plant, but it's quite another to stop in your tracks and stare stupidly with your mouth hanging open.  Between torrential downpours today, that's exactly what occurred between me and Garrya eliptica.  Truth be told, I've walked past this friendly shrub too many times to count, yet it's not until it screamed for attention that I noticed the poor dear.  Just look at these traffic stopping flowers!  Now that I'm paying attention, I'm noticing how nice its crinkle-edged leaves have fuzzy white undersides characteristic of many of our native plants.  Nice!  Garrya happily grows near the coast in well-drained soil, providing an evergreen hedge or screen and then knocking you out in winter with these stunning blooms.  Male plants produce longer catkins, with the variety 'James Roof' providing the best show. 

Soil: well-drained
Sun:  full to part sun
Plant:  the Fall might be ideal, after the summer heat and before the flowers are expected to appear.  The Spring would be good, as well.
Buy it:  California Flora Nursery shows one in stock, the Native Here Nursery seems to carry them, too.  For those on the Southern side of things, Las Pilitas Nursery will help you out.
Good for:  creating an evergreen background (pair it with Manzanitas for a winter wonderland of flowers!), garden drama, floral displays, deer sensitive gardens


  1. Silktassel is one of my favorite natives as well. Well at least in winter. I also tend to walk right past it otherwise. It is stunning when it does its thing though.

  2. I love the 'droopy' flowers. Such a beautiful shape. I love plants that are often overlooked during the warmer months and then show their stuff in the winter.

  3. Great plant,would be really pretty in the home garden. I've only seen it in the wild.

  4. It should be used more in gardens, shouldn't it? It strikes me as the kind of plant that sits in the back of the room, saying nothing the entire evening, but when it speaks, everyone stops to listen. I can't wait to stick one in the backyard! Thanks for the comments, guys!

  5. Gorgeous - I have two to plant but I don't think they are James Roof. My third time to try and get them established. Very lovely!

  6. Good luck, Country Mouse! Third time's a charm?