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Silk tassel steals show in dry winter garden

Garden Gems: Evie silk tassel, a common cultivar of a California native shrub, is a standout in the dry winter garden with 10-inch long silvery chains of flowers.
Garden Gems: Evie silk tassel, a common cultivar of a California native shrub, is a standout in the dry winter garden with 10-inch long silvery chains of flowers.

This is one part in a weekly series featuring the UC Davis Arboretum’s “Garden Gems” series – 45 can’t-fail, easy-care, low-water plants well adapted to our region and that add sparkle to drought-tolerant landscapes.

Evie silk tassel

Garrya elliptica “Evie”

Size: 8 to 15 feet tall and wide at maturity.

Bloom season: Winter.

Exposure: Full sun; in Central Valley, can benefit from some afternoon shade.

Pruning needs: None; prune to shape when young.

Water needs: Low; 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 chains 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. Silk tassel thrives on the edge of an irrigated area where it transitions to lower-water landscaping. A popular cultivar, “Evie” produces longer and showier flower tassels than the native species. With attractive evergreen gray foliage, silk tassel is useful as a background or screen plant in the low-water garden and is sure to delight in the foggy days of winter. In Sacramento, silk tassel 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 “Garden Gems,” click on arboretum.ucdavis.edu.

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