Coast silk tassel (Garrya elliptica)
Coast silk tassel is not a Willamette Valley native. Its native range is restricted to the coast of California and the southern half of Oregon. The silk tassel is dioecious (meaning female and male parts are borne on separate plants). It is frequently planted as an ornamental, because of the long, showy, pollen-bearing tassels that form on male plants in winter. A mature example sits near the southern end of the F.M. Wilkins picnic shelter at the crosswalk. If you are traveling to the coast, some fine specimens grow around the Dunes Overlook parking lot, south of Florence.
Flowers on a few of the early blooming rhododendrons and witch hazel are beginning to appear in the garden. Other plants are boasting big buds as our early spring approaches.