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Plant of the Month

Hardy Manzanita
Arctostaphylos patula

Location: Grid P31 along the edge of the gravel road in the Xeriscape Garden

This is one of my favorite plants in the Arboretum, partly because for some reason it is essentially unknown in the nursery business. I am working with Don Regan at the UI's Franklin H. Pitkin Forest Nursery to remedy that situation. Don has been able to successfully propagate the plant and limited numbers of them will be available at this year’s Arboretum Plant Sale.

Hardy Manzanita, Arctostaphyllos patula 3-16-15
Hardy Manzanita, Arctostaphyllos patula 3-16-15

The USDA website shows this Manzanita as a native to pretty much every western state except Idaho. There are more than 50 species of Manzanita, but most are not hardy enough to live in Moscow. Besides being a rare hardy broad leaf evergreen with attractive (although small) flowers, the most striking feature of the shrub is the vivid purple bark.

Hardy Manzanita bark 3-16-15
Hardy Manzanita bark 3-16-15

The flowers appear in early spring, along with the Forsythia and other early bloomers. The flowers are popular with pollinators. The plants in the Xeriscape Garden were planted in the original planting in 2003. One has been pruned to expose the lower branches, the other has been left alone. They both have grown into nicely shaped shrubs about 3' tall and 4' wide. They have had no supplemental water after the first year or so.

Monthly Projects

Although we had a few nights that the temperature dipped to 20 or less I have not seen any significant damage to spring flowering trees or shrubs. I think the damage that I am seeing was caused by the sudden change in temperature in November when we went from very mild temperatures to two nights below 10 degrees. The most unusual damage is showing up on Ponderosa Pines all over the area. As a very hardy local native, they would normally be the last thing I would expect to show damage, but in many groups of Ponderosa Pines I am seeing 2 or 3 trees with severely burnt needles. I have not seen any that look damaged badly enough to kill them, but many will be unsightly until new growth covers up the burnt areas.

Burnt needles on Ponderosa Pines 3-20-15
Burnt needles on Ponderosa Pines 3-20-15

Upcoming Events


Arboretum Associates Annual Meeting
Wednesday, April 8, 2015 7:00 pm
1912 Building, Great Room
Socializing, board elections, and an annual Arboretum report


Arboretum Associates Annual Plant Sale
Saturday, May 30 2015 9:00 am to 12:00 pm
Ice Rink at the Latah County Fairgrounds

Hosta 'Curly Fries'
Hosta 'Curly Fries'
Beat the rush—this Hosta has been selected as the 'Hosta of the Year 2016'!
Rigid, highly ruffled narrow 5-6” leaves emerge yellow and then lighten to near white.

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