New Year, New Tree: Winter Plant Sale at the SER-UW Nursery

Whether you’re aiming to beautify your yard or hoping to decrease your soil erosion rate, planting a tree would offer benefits beyond your intention. Trees are the foundation of maintaining a sustainable wellbeing. When you plant a tree, you are providing a new source of oxygen, introducing an efficient way to rid the air and soil of pollutants, and contributing to habitat in tree canopies for wildlife. Purchasing a tree is a decade-long, sometimes even a life-long, investment in the advancement of green areas. Trees are sometimes thought to be limited to forested backyards or restoration sites, but we’re here to tell you that trees in urban yards and container gardens are also vital and as equally admirable.

If you’re still searching for a worth-while yet low-maintenance New Year’s resolution, consider purchasing and planting a tree. The SER-UW Native Plant Nursery is hosting its first ever “New Year, New Tree: Winter Plant Sale” with online orders and curbside pickups. Browse our availability to find which tree is right for your needs and submit inquiries and orders to Pickups will be assigned for Mondays, Wednesdays, or Thursdays between 9am-12pm, beginning Wednesday March 3rd.

The SER-UW Native Plant Nursery is a student-run and education-oriented institution located at the Center for Urban Horticulture (3501 NE 41st St, Seattle, WA 98105). Our student interns are happy to pass along their knowledge of suitable trees for specific environments. One of our favorite things at the nursery is seeing the full cycle of growing trees: from seed, to one larger container after another as the tree grows, and to finally being sold to an enthusiastic community member.

Below are some descriptions of tree species we offer and their preferred conditions.


Common name: Shore pine

Botanical name: Pinus contorta var. contorta

Family: Pinaceae

Shore pines are found all over the Pacific Coast, from Southern Alaska to Northern California. Known and named for their contorted growth habits, a shore pine can grow up to a whopping 50 feet tall, though in a “somewhat sprawling and irregular” manner. Shore pines are happy when facing “a light salt spray with ease” at the beach (aren’t we all?). Offshore, these trees frequently are used in ornamental landscaping for their impressive stature and convenient adaptability.

Common name: Gary oak, Oregon white oak

Botanical name: Quecus garryana

Family: Fagaceae

Quercus garryana is the only oak species native to Washington state. They can live for up to 500 years, and while they can grow in a variety of conditions from rocky bluffs to deep-soil meadows, Garry oak ecosystems are increasingly rare and imperiled. These oaks have a unique branching pattern full of sharp twists and deep turns, resulting in a contorted, yet undoubtedly handsome, stature in its mature years. As if Garry oaks haven’t impressed us enough already, their leaves turn a deep and rich gold color in the fall to remind us of their regality.

Common name: Cascara, buckthorn tree

Botanical name: Frangula [Rhamnus] purshiana

Family: Rhamnaceae

A common shrub-like tree (or tree-like shrub) you’ll meet here in the PNW. But don’t be fooled, the commonality of this tree doesn’t take away a bit of its elegance. Cascaras have grey spotted bark and flaunt deep green and heavily veined leaves. Modest flowers will develop into fruit that resembles black pears. Plant a cascara near you in a partly sunny spot with well-drained soil.

Common name: Sitka spruce

Botanical name: Picea sitchensis

Family: Pinaceae

While our spruces in the nursery may only be 16” tall, P. sitchensis is the third tallest tree in the world, following the second tallest Douglas-fir (also sold at the SER-UW Nursery). With scaly bark, seeping sap, and the most spikey needles, Sitka spruces are not easy to confuse with other members of the Pinaceae family, let alone of the Picea genus. Prevailing from Northern California to the Kenai Peninsula of Alaska, this spruce is named after Sitka, Alaska, will prosper in poor soil and exposed land, and may grow up to 1.5 meters per year when planted.

Please, note: deciduous trees have lost their leaves until spring and will look bare when purchased.