Recently Evan Bean aka the Practical Plant Geek solicited tree suggestions on the PNW Plant Geeks Facebook page. I love this game, and it seems I’m in good company. He might as well have shot a starter pistol. Tree ideas: Go!

Evan is in search of a small tree, 20-30 feet, for a spot that gets sun from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Kind of a perfect challenge, right? He also specified his soil type, clay loam. I had to look that up. Usually discussion on soil types make my eyes roll into the back of my head. But this one seemed lucid, intelligent, well thought out. NOT overruled.

The area, wherein Evan is contemplating tree placement, gets occasional water–there are Rhododendron nearby–and he’s in Zone 8a. Evan also asked for horizontal branching and a mostly open habit. I was so glad he wrote that, because now I know how to describe every tree I ever wanted. Check. Check. Check.

The spot wherein Evan needs a tree.


I have to admit to being a little surprised that Evan the Bean would even ask. This dude keeps us on our toes around ole plant lust, chasing down correct nomenclature as well as sleuthing site releases for proper functioning. He knows Aspidistra from Zauschneria — which Evan would point out, is nka Epilobium. I don’t care what they say. I just learned to say Zauschneria, and I’m sticking with it.


Two trees were already in the running, Stewartia pseudocamellia ‘Ballet’ and Acer japonicum ‘Acontifolium’ — both swoon-worthy considerations, Zones 5a-8b and 6a-8b respectively. Great Plant Picks likes the Acer japonicum ‘Aconitifolium’ too–and their description of required soil conditions seem ideal. Such a beautiful selection.

One could stop right there, if one could stop anywhere–which, of course, none of us can.

Acer japonicum ‘Aconitifolium’ — I think. I’d take it, either way.


I think the above photo is Aconitifolium Full Moon Maple. Photographed at Treephoria, so the fabulous and famous Tree Evangelist Nancy Buley could tell us for sure.

But back to Evan. Evan said that even he finds the sheer number of Acer palmatums daunting. That’s a relief. I can’t tell you how many books I’ve checked out on Japanese Maples–and it hasn’t helped one whit. The upshot of Evan’s search, he wanted “Simple, Green, and Serene.” And btw, Evan, that’s the title of a book you should write. I’m pretty good at agitating for trees in friends’ gardens–and pointing out terrific titles.

Little Aureum Full Moon Maple on its way home.

The little full moon maple now lives in a pot under a 90′ Copper Beech. I convinced my friend she couldn’t live without this little chartreuse charmer at last year’s HPSO Spring Sale. That’s not wrong, is it?

Now I’m able to visit the above Aureum Japanese Maple in the summertime for cocktails in the garden. It is a downright public service to agitate for good plants. Who’s with me?

A wee aside, the former owner of the house planted the Beech in 1950. It grew and grew. Is there anything better than sitting under a majestic giant. Any season, really. Beechnuts, anyone? There will be plenty.

Fagus sylvatica Atropupurea Group, photo by Cathleen Woodruff

Back to the starters in the “Which Tree?” game:

Alexander W. suggested Styrax obassia. Ooooooh, that’s that tree I was wondering about. I espied this very tree in the neighborhood, while walking over to stalk the Danger Garden. I should have asked.

Styrax Obassia photo by Loree Bohl


Cercis occidentalis was suggested, also fabulous.

Cercis occidentalis by Stan Shebs


The aforementioned Nancy Buley of Teephoria chimed in with information about a new Cercis ‘Pink Pom Poms’ — so new in fact, probably limited availability. But keep an eye out.

And Rosa ‘Nevada’ was sugggested. I’m not familiar with this one, but Missouri Botanical Garden can tell you all about it. Sounds interesting.

Cornus controversa ‘Variegata’ is a contender. Talk about peek through branches. Nice, no?


Lyonothamnus floribundus ssp. asplenifolius got strong support. It didn’t really register, until I saw it at the Plant Nerd Night offered by Cistus Nursery. I quite love it, now that I know it. Don’t really have a spot, but I’m busy eyeing the neighbors’ yard.

Catalina Ironwood or Santa Cruz Island Ironwood


This was the best photo I could get, considering the all pushing and shoving. Come on people: when have you ever had trouble spending too little money on the plants!

Chionanthus virginicus got several mentions–including from me. Zone 4a – 9b. I love this little tree, and I need it.

Chionanthus virginicus aka White Fringe Tree — photo by Karl Gercens III.


Look at it close up. Dear lord, is that gorgeous or what?

Chionanthus virginicus bloom. Photo again by Karl Gercens III.


Oh right, this was about Evan. Heh heh. Evan said White Fringe Tree is almost too pretty. That’s just crazy talk.

I also suggested Heptacodium miconioides, which he loves–and already has.

Heptacodium miconiodes aka Seven Son Flower, photo by Secret Garden Growers


Apparently, I made quite a few suggestions. Seems I forgot whose project we were on. One more, that I also really want, probably near the top of my list. You can take it, can’t you?

x Chitalpa tashkentensis — Photo by Secret Garden Growers, and they happen to have available too!


This tree is also another Great Plant Picks winner. Zones 6a – 9b. One of these trees lives near our former home, and I need to visit it soon–the tree, not the house. I’m so over that place, and never thought I’d see the day. (You probably need a picture. Even though I know I’ve shown it before.)

Alameda House & Garden in its winter whites.


We had no idea how much we’d love our mid-century ranch. So easy to live in, with big windows to integrate the garden. There’s a peek of Mt. St. Helens from our living room window, so careful tree placement is essential–so that we don’t block our view, or the neighbors. That would be criminal.

One level living + basement, with windows to the garden.


Hard to imagine there was ever a time I could distinguish one plant from another in the above bed. That front garden needs some serious editing.

Evan his ownself at center during Heldreth’s Open Garden + Charlie, Lonnie, Mindy, and Alan. I love plant nerds.


For this project, there were so many good suggestions. Is it wrong to want them all? I can’t wait until Evan the Bean  makes his selections and delivers us a tasty post.

Josephine (Mom,) Uncle Bob Painter, Grandpa Buell Painter, Grandma Katherine Troy Paint, Aunt Rose Painter Kerr, Aunt Mary Painter Claycomb.


That concludes this weeks’ saga. I come from a long line of storytellers. When we visited as kids, my Grandfather would sit in his chair, pipe in hand, and tell us story after story. I wish I’d written them down when I could still remember. The upshot, I can’t help myself in the story telling department–with asides. But in my defense, it is tangentially related.

By all means, send your suggestions this way. Love to hear from you.