Thursday, March 16, 2017

The Hazel Garden

I came across this article about Persian ironwood and found it interesting. I planted the cultivar the article talks about - Parrotia persica 'Vanessa' - in 2013. When I first came across this tree I found little information about it and I've never seen one growing anywhere.


I got mine at Broken Arrow nursery. It is a narrow version of the species tree, and my little one after just a few years does show how skinny it wants to be.

I planted it in the strip along the side of the driveway where there is a big purple mound of a ninebark, and a leafy, shaggy looking sweetgum. The midlevel green shrubbery is a lot of spreading 'Gro-Low' fragrant sumacs, and at the far left side past the ninebark and the sweetgum, there are two witch hazels side by side.


I like to name my garden areas, and since "driveway garden" has no charm, I'm going to start calling this strip the Hazel Garden, because Parrotia is in the same family as the two witch hazels, and with three plants of the same family, I have a theme going.

I had a dwarf winterhazel (Corylopsis) in this garden at one time too, and that's another plant in the hazel family. But that was moved when it got swamped by the spreading sumacs. Even the sweetgum (Liquidambar) was formerly classified in the Hamamelis hazel family, but at some point it was reclassified and is apparently unrelated. But still, this garden just wants to be known for its hazels, so it will be.

The article was interesting because it highlighted how variable Parrotia can be. Even in the few years this young one has been in my garden it puzzled me when one year there was no fall color, another year it was russety, another time yellow gold.


It is supposed to be a slow grower, but just like oak trees it seems to shoot up fast when young, then slow down. Mine is growing quickly so far.

Would Parrotia grow in the west if I wanted to try it out there? As its Persian description indicates, it comes from an area known for harsh conditions, but the article notes that its native range is actually a wetter, mountainous area of Iran with plenty of rain. It is apparently widely planted in the wet Pacific northwest and coastal California.

But it's also a very tough plant that grows at elevation, is not fussy about ph and needs good drainage. It likes dry springs and wants its moisture in the winter. So maybe it could do well in a tended courtyard at 7,000 feet?

Meanwhile, here in my east coast garden with very little care, Parrotia persica 'Vanessa' is growing tall and narrow in the newly christened Hazel Garden.

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