The Hoyt Arboretum

A couple weekends ago, I took advantage of some unseasonable warmth and sunshine to go to the Hoyt Arboretum. This was my first visit to the arboretum, and I plunged right into the deep end, spending more than four hours there just wandering around. Since I'm too lazy to sort through the hundreds of photos I took to show them here in any sort of clever order or grouping, I'm just going to show them in order of my rambling walk.

Just the area around the parking lot and visitor center alone is full of visual treasures, many of them natives of the western United States. Evergreen oaks, Arctostaphylos, Garrya, and more provide familiar faces in what may be a not so familiar range. 

This one oak, sadly unlabeled as far as I could see, grew as a lovely, airy shrub 7 or 8 feet tall in bright shade. The dark green leaf tops contrasted beautifully with the pale undersides.

Slightly larger, verging on small tree-size, Quercus rugosa has wonderfully-textured leaves to 3-4 inches in length. Many of these evergreen oaks, whether shrubs or trees, have very open habits. I've really fallen in love with their architecture and foliage.

Another unlabeled plant. I think it's the same as or similar to the first one. The older foliage has the same dark upper surfaces and pale undersides. The new growth, though, is a beautiful blue-grey, only slightly paler underneath than on top.

I can never resist the bark of crepe myrtles. Personally, I find it much more appealing than the floofy, fluffy flowers.

Lithocarpus densiflorus v. echinoides is a shrubby, dwarf version of the tanbark oak. Lithocarpus densiflorus can grow to over 100 feet tall and wide, but v. echinoides grows less than 12 feet tall, with some forms not exceeding 3 or 4 feet.

Here's another form with very blue foliage. I want so many of these, all over the garden. I've got plenty of dry, open shade for them to grow in. There's a very good chance that both of these plants came from Cistus Nursery.

Podocarpus lawrencei 'Purple King' is another plant on my wishlist, along with pretty much any hardy podocarp. This one eventually grows to perhaps 6 feet tall, maybe a bit more, and at least as wide. I think it would look wonderful in the open, park-like woodland I'm planning for a large area of my parents' yard.

This Zanthoxylum species (probably simulans, but I forgot to photograph the label) was loaded with fruit, and a bit of foliage was still hanging on, too. It gave me a good opportunity to play with my macro lens.

Mislabeled plants are a problem in pretty much every garden I've ever been to. It happens, and the people working there can only do so much. I'm not sure which Arctostaphylos this is, possibly a nevadensis hybrid, but I know it's not Arctostaphylos uva-ursi, as the label claims. Maybe there was one there, with the current plant as a neighbor, and it was overwhelmed by the taller, more vigorous plant.

Lyonothamnus floribundus v. asplenifolius has beautiful bark. I haven't seen many of them, and this is the first one I've seen in the Portland area that wasn't in a baking hot parking lot in the city. Maybe I could try one, after all.

Who can resist that bark and this foliage? My garden is a bit cooler than Portland, but even here it rarely gets below 15F. Las Pilitas claims it can recover from single-digits, though it will freeze to the trunk. It's only gotten that cold here once in the last 25 years or so. That should be ample time to grow a nice big trunk, right?

Arctostaphylos canescens, with beautiful grey leaves and dark reddish bark. I need more arctos in my life.

 Garryas, too. I didn't see the label for this plant, probably hidden somewhere under the low branches.

I've been very interested lately in evergreen shrubs that can tolerate bright to dappled shade and drought. This parking lot, though mostly sunny, has a lot of plants layered over one another, making it a good place to observe plants in exactly that situation. This Arctostaphylos 'Sunset' was one of the better arctos in shadier conditions.

Moving on from the parking lot, I walked along this path, heading toward a beautiful, mossy Acer macrophyllum.

Let's just get a closer look. Apparently, the relatively high levels of calcium in the bark are part of what make these majestic trees such an ideal environment for the mosses and lichens that usually coat their branches.

While walking towards the maple, my eye was also caught by several specimens of the tree below.

So airy and open, some might say gangly and awkward.

Flat plums of small, dark green leaves droop slightly from horizontal branches.

The effect was lacy and beautiful. But what is it?!

 Another grove farther along the trail provided a label with the name Nothofagus dombeyi, one of the southern beeches. Possibly hardy down to zone 6b, this beautiful evergreen tree is a wonderful choice for a garden that stays a bit moist in summer. In habitat, it usually doesn't experience drought longer than 1 month. Sadly, I'm looking for things that can stay dry a bit longer than that, though this might work in some parts of my garden.

And that's where I'll pause this walk for today, because I want to get outside to take advantage of this beautiful, sunny weather to plant things! Happy gardening!


  1. I've lived here forever, and yet have only been to the Hoyt once as well. It was in the fall and spectacular. I promised myself many return visits at the time, so I'd better get cracking. This post was a luscious reminder.

    1. With this warm weather, I'll bet a lot of things are starting to wake up there. I want to return soon, myself.

  2. It looks like a great place to help you formulate a solid wish list.

    1. It is. Someday I'll have a mature garden and my constant scheming and list-making will ebb (a little), and I'll be able to just appreciate the garden itself.

  3. There's so much to be said about evergreen shrubs, and it still amazes me how many nice types of oaks there are!

    1. The evergreen oaks, especially from western North America, have become one of my favorite plant groups since working for Cistus.

  4. "floofy, fluffy flowers"...preach it! I couldn't agree more.

    Lyonothamnus floribundus v. asplenifolius in a hell-strip...what do you think? Reading along on your walk it occurred to me a trip to Hoyt would be a great place to start putting together a list of suitable trees...

    1. Oh, good, I'm not the only one who doesn't like those kinds of flowers!

      I think that tree was practically made for hell-strips. This far north, the hotter and drier, the better.

  5. When I first started gardening, I found parks, public gardens and arboretums not only fun and relaxing but also great for getting ideas: There were living proofs of successful planting in different conditions, and I was more then happy to steal ideas every chance I got! Definitely plant arctos (love those colors) and don't resist Lyonothamnus floribundus; must try it a least once.

  6. Lyonothamnus floribundus. Yes! Grow one. Mine has been really fast growing - came from Cistus many years ago and only had a bit of die back during the second Phormium killing winter. It quickly recovered and because of our proximity to the sound, we're cooler in the summer than you are. One would be very happy in your garden and it's such a great tree!

    1. It probably got colder here during the second PKW than it did in your garden, but I hope we don't get another winter like that anytime soon. At least I can get one from work at a discount!


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