Ellen Zagory

Garrya elliptica, commonly called coast silktassel, is a California native shrub that can find a home in Sacramento low-water landscapes.

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New Front Yard: Silktassel lives up to its name

Published: Saturday, Feb. 15, 2014 - 12:00 am
Last Modified: Saturday, Aug. 23, 2014 - 12:38 am

This is one part in a weekly series featuring the UC Davis Arboretum “New Front Yard” series, 41 drought-tolerant and beautiful plants well adapted to our region.

Coast silktassel

Garrya elliptica

Size: 6 to 9 feet tall.

Bloom season: Winter.

Pruning needs: None; prune to shape when young.

Exposure: Prefers some afternoon shade in Central Valley.

Water needs: Once established, water deeply once a month; needs some extra water to look its best.

Snapshot: This large, evergreen California native shrub – which grows as wide as it is tall – lives up to its nickname. Each winter, it produces 10-inch-long and delicate silvery tassels of flowers that make a fabulous show. This bush grows with little irrigation once established but also will tolerate moisture if the soil has adequate drainage. Silktassel thrives on the edge of an irrigated area where it transitions to lower-water landscaping. Common cultivars “Evie” and “James Roof” produce longer and showier flower tassels than the native species. Silktassel is useful as a background or screen plant in the low-water garden and sure to delight in the foggy days of winter. In Sacramento, silktassel does well under tall trees where it is shaded in summer from the hot afternoon sun. You can see specimens in the arboretum’s Mary Wattis Brown Garden of California native plants on the UC Davis campus.

• For more on the New Front Yard, click on arboretum.ucdavis.edu.

More online

See photo galleries of the arboretum’s Community Favorites and Arboretum All-Stars at sacbee.com/home_garden.

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