December is time for evergreens to shine.  Throughout the botanical gardens you will see all of these evergreens and more.  Many of them are quite tall, and so we have posted pictures of the bark, which is what you would see at eye level.  Look for some of the the Doug Firs standing in pairs. Bundle up and enjoy the greenery.

Botanic name:Cephalotaxus harringtonia
Common name: Japanese plum yew
Family: Taxaceae

This evergreen is perfectly situated in our botanical garden because it’s a shade lover.  While it is typically seen as a 5-10’ shrub, it can be guided to become a 20-30’ tree. Its evergreen v-shaped leaves spiral around vertical branches. Both male and female plants and some busy pollinators are needed to produce their plum-like fruits, which are edible. Drought tolerance, the ability to thrive in shade, and even heat toleration make this a reliable garden resident.

Botanic name: Pinus strobus
Common name: Eastern white pine
Family:  Pinaceae

This gentle giant from the northeastern part of the continent sports 5” (or so) bluish-green needles. Touch them, and you will discover they are somewhat soft.  Typical of pines, it also produces cylindrical 4-8” long cones beginning in its fifth year. It was once valued as a timber tree, and can be disciplined into a hedge, but for the garden it grows tall, providing habitat for birds and animals, as well as shade.

Botanic name:  Pseudotsuga menziesii
Common name: Douglas fir
Family: Pinaceae 

Unique forked cone bracts on 4-5” cones adorn this tall western native. When under cultivation, these trees can get from 50-80’ tall, but in the forest have been reported at 300” or more, marking it as one of the tallest of trees. The dark green 1.5” flat, linear needles, spiral around the branch, sometimes showing their white banding on the underside. If crushed, they release a pleasing fragrance. It is well suited to medium to wet, well-drained soils in the sun, which makes it a perfect resident here.

Botanic name:  Thuja plicata
Common name: Western red cedar
Family: Cupressaceae

This tree is aptly named as it is a native of the Pacific Northwest, and is adorned with a fibrous, red, aromatic bark. The largest of the cypress family, it can get from 100-200’ tall in its native habitat. Branches tend to grow horizontally, and are loaded with sprays of aromatic, flat dark green foliage. Small (½”) upright, light brown cones bejewel the branches and can be found on the ground nearby. Look for this cedar not only in the garden, but also around the Northwest.

Botanic name:  Tsuga heterophylla
Common name: Western hemlock ​
Family: Pinaceae

A member of the pine family, you will find it in a shady area of the garden growing from 70-150’.This native is quite happy in the moisture-laden environment of the Pacific Northwest, and is the state of Washington’s designated tree. Thick, scaly, reddish-brown bark covers the tree, and narrow ¼” – ¾” dark green needles with white undersides sprout from downward-hanging branches. It is unique amongst the evergreens in the garden due to its “drooping” branches.

November’s Fall Garden Treasure Hunt

To all eyes it would seem the garden is quieting down for the season, but if you look closely…

The Waking Garden

February may still seem like Winter here in Portland, but in the garden…


There are several different kinds of Hydrangeas that grow in our area….

Bee Loving Native Shrubs

June is a busy time for pollinators, and the garden offers many native shrubs for them…

Spring Flamboyance

The garden is celebrating it’s awakening from the quiet winter months. Here are some of the many flamboyant…

Pretty Pink Flourishes

Stroll through the garden and enjoy the many pink and white flourishes…

What do they have in common?

These plants all have something in common other than being residents at the garden…

May Flowers

It’s that time of year! Pollinators and garden lovers rejoice, the blooms are here…

The Great Leach Garden Bamboo Mystery

In our August Garden Journal entry, we are focusing on the garden’s bamboo…

Fabulous Fall Fruits

Look closely and you will see that the garden plays host to many autumn fruits that are easy to overlook…

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