“Chiri”The correlations between Arizona sky islands and Pacific Northwest landscapes have not gone unnoticed, though it doesn’t seem to extend too far back into our PNW garden histories. Sean Hogan of Cistus Nursery was one of the first to plant some of these western native beauties in Portland gardens. One of his favorites, the silver leaf oak (Quercus hypoleucoides) collected from the Chiricahua National Monument, is planted as a street tree in front of his previous home in Portland. Since the first seeds arrived as a gift from his friend, he has been traveling and collecting species from these mountains and growing them for our enjoyment. Now, a keen and discerning eye can notice silver leaf oaks popping up in neighborhood gardens and planted as street trees all around town.
Our PNW native Madrone (Arbutus menziesii) has a cousin in the AZ mountains as well - Arbutus arizonica. Available in specialty nurseries occasionally, the Arizona madrone clone (named “Chiri”) that Sean collected years ago in the Chiricahua is also seen more commonly throughout town (and also in my front yard garden!). I had enjoyed growing “Chiri” for a few years before realizing that Chiri was named after Chiricahua, the range of mountains an hour and a half east of Tucson. It was one of those words that went over my head for a few conversations when I talked about rare oak trees with Sean and Sam. But after visiting Mt. Lemmon and studying some maps of Arizona, I realized the Chiricahua was worthy of a quest!