Trials Update: A Zone 6b Success Story!

Posted on August 03, 2016 by Ed Coughlin

In 2014 I was fortunate enough to meet John and Adam Artley of Grass Roots Nursery, in Maggie Valley, NC.  The small garden Center has a great selection of plants, offers sound advice, and is well worth a visit if you are anywhere near the Blue Ridge Mountains in Western NC.

I quickly realized that John and Adam were real plantsmen.  I told them about my efforts to prove cold hardiness in Eucalyptus by establishing Trials Gardens throughout the region.  I’m not sure if they agreed to become a Southern Eucs Trials Garden because they were interested in the science, or because I spent a boat load of money over my many visits to Grass Roots.  Still, they agreed, and Southern Eucs had a high elevation, and cold (zone 6b) trials location in nearby Waynesville, NC.

John agreed to plant a dozen trees on a windswept corner of his property.  Observation and reporting in this cold climate were pretty simple; Dead or alive!

A nurseryman for over 20 years, John knew that most homeowners were not Master Gardeners, so he jammed the young trees into his rocky soil, in late September, and forgot about them.

After two of the coldest winters on record (2014, 2015), where temperatures twice touched -!0 degrees, were followed by a late hard freeze in 2016, I was almost reluctant to revisit the site.

I finally got back to the site on Friday, July 29, 2016 and was amazed at what I saw.

John was on hand to greet me and had been blown away by what he had witnessed.

Five of the eight varieties, that were planted and left alone to face the elements, had not only survived the -!0 temps and wind swept location, but are thriving!

I am happy to report the following Waynesville, NC (zone 6b), three year trials results: Eucalyptus subcrenulata 'Ripper' was a stunning 10’ with multiple trunks and full of clean foliage.

Eucalyptus stellulata ‘Sheila’ resembled a tall, fully branched shrub.  Would make a great hedge row in any garden.

Eucalyptus neglecta ‘Big 0’, a small tree by nature, was only about 4’ but a real specimen in the making.

Looks like one of the winters knocked back Eucalyptus camphora ‘Lucky Country’ to the ground, but it was responding well with an attractive multi-trunk and fragrant foliage.

And finally Eucalyptus nova-anglica 'Maggie'. A stunning 8’ tall tree that was John’s favorite for its silver to grey foliage and weeping habit.  Nova-Anglica will be introduced by Southern Eucs in spring of 2017. 

All the Southern Eucs that passed our Waynesville, NC Trials will be available this fall at Grass Roots; one of Carolina’s finest nurseries!

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