Happening Now in the Garden:
May 17, 2010

by Eric Shalit | May 17th, 2010

This is the first installment of what I hope will be a regular feature. There’s always something interesting and amazing happening in the garden. My enthusiasm for documenting it is sometimes not there. Then there’s the matter of producing a photo worth sharing with you. I have some photos of blurry bees in the Ceanothus I was hoping to post. The bees didn’t look at all blurry in real life. I really should read my camera’s manual. Enough excuses. Here are a few bold plants strutting their stuff.

Actinidia kolomikta (Variegated Kiwi Vine). I believe this is a male plant, as it produces no fruit.

Lithocarpus densiflorus 'echinoides'. The shrub form of the Tanoak. I bought this as a seedling from Mark Mueller of Fairmeadow Nursery (Olympia), who grew it from acorns he collected in the Siskyou Mountains of Oregon. I have another from a different source. The one shown here has much glossier leaves. I enjoy the new foliage of this plant at least as much as the peony flower below.

Here's another image of the Lithocarpus densiflorus 'echinoides', showing the newly forming acorns. The name Tanoak refers to its tannin-rich bark, used in the past for tanning leather before the use of modern synthetic tannins. Lithocarpus densiflorus, commonly known as the Tanoak or Tanbark-oak, is an evergreen tree in the beech family Fagaceae, native to the western United States, in California as far south as the Transverse Ranges and north to southwest Oregon. I believe I read it is considered to be a link between the oaks and beeches.

Trachycarpus wagnerianus (Dwarf Chusan Palm) beginning to bloom. This is a less common palm than the T. fortunei (Chinese Windmill Palm) commonly grown here in Seattle. T. wagnerianus has significantly stiffer foliage and a narrower crown with age than T. fortunei. This plant is unknown in the wild and is thought to have originated in Japan.

I don't know the name of this peony. Its flowers are a delicious chiffon citron color, and peak out, somewhat hidden within the foliage. The back garden is not as floriferous as it once was, having become more shaded and dominated by eucalyptus, bamboos, palms, and broadleaf evergreens. This textural garden makes a dramatic setting for anything that blooms.

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No Responses to “Happening Now in the Garden:
May 17, 2010”

  1. Oh man! I’m so jealous, okay make that happy for you. I’ve been trying to growing Trachycarpus wagnerianus for years. My specimens have been so small that they freeze out.

    Any suggestions you may have would be appreciated. Do you overwinter yours in a protected space?

    Oh Calycanthus! Jealous again, love your new site!

  2. Eric Shalit says:


    Looks like you’re on Vashon Island. Are your palm specimens that are freezing out in pots? If yes, get them in the ground. That will give them an extra zone of hardiness. Completely hardy here in West Seattle with no protection, just a stone’s throw from where you are.
    Best wishes,

  3. Thanks for the tip Eric. Have you planted or tried to grow any of the other Trachycarpus: http://www.plantapalm.com/vpe/palmkey/trachykey/trachykey.htm

  4. Oh one more thing. Where can I buy this palm in the Puget Sound region?

  5. Eric Shalit says:


    I have Trachycarpus fortunei, T. takil, Chamaeops humilis, T. wagnerianus, T. manipur.

    L&B Nursery in north Seattle is a good place to buy palms. I think it would be unusual for them to have T. wagnerianus.


    You might visit the northwest palms & subtropicals board. That’s where the most serious collectors hang out. Sometimes people are selling plants or know of a source.


    You can grow them from seed too!