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Do you have any notion of the percentage of evergreen versus deciduous trees in your area? I hadn’t given it much thought. I’ve been wanting to add conifers to my garden, not too big–and I want them to have an open canopy. But other than that, what I don’t know is a lot.

How about you. What’s your sense of trees in the Urban Forest?

This came on my radar when I actually left the house Thursday for a free lecture on trees in the Portland area. I saw it on Facebook, scheduled for a couple days hence at McMenamins Kennedy school, a quarter mile from home. It didn’t hurt that Happy Hour was available before the lecture–and I’m fresh out of dinner ideas. It turned out, the gluten free bun was not available on the Happy Hour menu. But that’s okay. Because I’m accustomed to hardship.

Fyi, bloggers love McMenamins. There are several in the area, and their gardens are fabulous. We’ve all photographed and written about them because they are a great source of inspiration. See a few articles here and here and here.

Before I get too carried away and start telling you a long family tale, I’m going show a few of the recommendations. First, Magnolia grandiflora ‘Edith Bogue’. And lucky us, one was planted in our garden when we moved it. Good for the environment and gorgeous. It’s covered in ice as I type, but so far, it’s taken ice storms with aplomb.

Magnolia grandiflora 'Edith Bogue'
Magnolia grandiflora ‘Edith Bogue’ with drunk bee.

The last photo in the gallery above was taken our first year here, I’ve been widening the beds a bit more each year. The white peony was here as well. I think it’s Paeonia lactiflora ‘Krinkled White’. (The roses have been located–to another gardner’s yard.)

White Peony I think is Paeonia 'Krinled White'
White Peony is, I think, Paeonia ‘Krinled White’

Another suggested broadleaf evergreen is Arbutus unedo aka Strawberry Tree. I’m happy to say I have that tree as well though a smaller variety. Mine is Arbutus unedo ‘Elfin King’ which should stay under 12′.

Arbutus unedo 'Elfin King' is a compact version.
Arbutus unedo ‘Elfin King’ is a compact version.

How crazy good are those fruits. I still remember the first one I saw, and I thought, those look like strawberries.

A third recommendation is Quercus hypoleucoides aka the Silverleaf Oak. This one was not on my radar, but now it is. The indumentum is silver. I don’t have a personal photo of one, but I’m on the hunt.

Also recommended, Thuja plicata or Western Red Cedar, a Pacific Northwest Native. Amy Champion just wrote about it on The World’s Best Gardening Blog, along with her current crush, Thuja plicata ‘Whipcord’. (Seriously, who wouldn’t want this plant?)

One interesting note, even with the message that we need more evergreens, most on the were deciduous. So that was curious. Perchance an availability issue. (An inventory of my neighborhood trees can be found here. I love this.)

Recommended street tree list available from Friends of Trees in PDX.
Recommended street tree list available from Friends of Trees in PDX.

Don’t get me wrong, there were some terrific deciduous trees suggested, e.g., Continus aka Smoke Bush. The fall color really glows: I did not fake it with photo adjustments, I swear.

Cotinus 'Grace' (I think) at Gossler Farms
Cotinus ‘Grace’ (I think) at Gossler Farms

Other deciduous Magnolias were on the desirable list. There were a couple trees in the presentation that I know personally. Am I a nerd, or what?

Magnolia 'Yellow Fever'
Magnolia ‘Yellow Fever’

I know this tree too, Pistacia chinensis–included in the speaker’s presentation.

Pistacia chinense aka Chinese Pistachio
Pistacia chinense aka Chinese Pistachio

I keep saying I’m going to learn more about conifers, and hoped I’d hear more at the lecture. So many good trees, and so little time. I saw some good ones a couple years ago at Boring Bark. I like the open structure of that beauty in the center. Pinus? Until I know better, I’m calling it Pinus Cutie Pie. I didn’t realize when I initially saw their display gardens that they’ll dig trees right up and sell them to you. Next time!

Conifer display garden at Boring Bark.
Conifer display garden at Boring Bark.

The upshot, it’s going to be a while before I can write the definitive guide on cool, open-structure, smallish conifers. But while I’m studying, I’d love to hear about your any and every conifer crush.