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Open Garden Mini Tour

Our garden will be open tomorrow (Sunday, June 4th) along with two other gardens in our area -  Ruth Clark 3111 NW 149th St, Vancouver, WA 98685  Vicki Green (and local glass artist Kevin Kanyo) 11914 NE 49th Court, Vancouver, WA 98686 Stop by for a stroll and lemonade and cookies! Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy

Boxleaf Azara


I was not familiar at all with Boxleaf Azara (Azara microphylla) when we moved to the Pacific Northwest and it soon became one of my favorite small trees. I planted one five years ago and it has quickly grown into a pyramidal shape about 8 feet tall. The tree is native to Chile and Argentina. 

In late winter, tiny yellow flowers appear although it took several years before ours began to bloom. This week, the last week of March, it is blooming and it has more blooms than I've ever seen. From a distance or a quick glance, the flowers are not that noticeable. However, the fragrance is unforgettable and depending on who you ask, is reminiscent of vanilla or chocolate. Either way, it always smells like someone is baking in the neighborhood when the flowers appear. 

Even without flowers, the tree is quite attractive with tiny, leathery, evergreen leaves. I have discovered that this tree has a very shallow root system. After a heavy snow last winter, I was sickened to see it almost prone on the ground. However, I propped it back up and it seemed unfazed. Last month, heavy winds and another snowfall was threatening it again. This time, I reinforced staking by putting in four iron fence posts all around it. 

I have the tree planted in full sun although many grow it in part shade. I think the tree has a denser form in the sun and it can be tip pruned for a tighter shape. 

There is also a variegated variety that has a weeping habit. We carry it from time to time at Yard N' Garden Land but I think I prefer the plain green one.

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy


  1. That's very pretty, I wonder how it would do in Wales or up on the West Coast, as I think that's where I'm headed for my final seat?

    1. Hugh, they like cool summers. They do well on the U.S. west coast at least for now!

  2. It's beautiful. Annie's carries it and I've been very tempted...

  3. As I was working in the garden the other day, a strong scent of confectionary sugar waft through the air: my neighbor's Azara was in full bloom. I rush to inspect my 2 year old, 6' Azara. It grows in a sunny area, and I spotted a few blooms. JOY!
    I also grow the variegated Azara. It is growing in a more shaded spot, much smaller and scragglier: no blooms on that one.

  4. I tried it--someone with no space gave it to me. It was during one of the bad drought years when we had a horrible roasting summer and a roasting, rainless winter, and it died. Lovely plant, from what I could tell. Cool summer needed, yes indeed.


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