A Flowering Tree Wish List

This time of year is such a treat.  It is so full of beautiful flowering trees and shrubs that it is hard to take it all in and really feel like you have enjoyed it before it fades into the green of summer.

My own garden boasts a Cercis canadensis (Eastern Red bud) that is just about to burst open with flowers, a Heptacodium miconioides (Seven Sons Tree), a gorgeous burgundy blooming crabapple of unknown variety, a hand full of voluptuous Pierus (andromeda) and a few “flowering weepers” (so-called by the previous owner who insisted that this was their proper name when I tried to get the bottom of their actual variety). It’s a nice mix, but I’m a connoisseur of the out of the ordinary and special – I believe there are quite enough Bradford pears in my corner of the world and that I am doing no one any favors by planting more.  Rather, I like to surprise and experiment and with that in mind I have a lot of lists with a lot of constantly evolving plant ideas.

halesia tree by rochelle greayer www.pithandvigor.comAt the top of my ‘Spring flowering Tree List’ are the following….should I happen across one of these in the nursery at a good price it will surely find its way home with me….

Halesia is such a delicate tree that reminds me the handkerchief tree (Davidia involucrata) (which I am similarly obsessed with). Halesia’s flowers are bell-shaped and it likes my naturally acidic soil.  I’d honestly take any variety (there are some that have larger flowers, some that are tinged pink and other interesting varieties) as all I really care about is being able to stand beneath it and look up into the warren of pretty dangling flowers.

crataegus laevigata paul's scarlet (creative commons  by A. Barra.)Crataegus laevigata ‘Paul’s Scarlet’ was a tree I fell in love with back in my London Days.  I lived in a Street called Greencroft Gardens in West Hampstead and on the way to the tube station was a huge hawthorn across from a similarly large Ceanothus.  The two were such focal points for the whole road, my husband and I couldn’t help but remark about them daily.  At the time I was unfamiliar with the Hawthorn and had no idea what it was – I called the giant mini rose tree (as the clustered flowers are just like roses and literally cover the tree).  I’ve never seen one here in New England I’d consider it quite a find to discover one. 

cercis canadensis redbud tree by kathleen conkilin via www.pithandvigor.comRedbud - Yes, I know – I already said I have one, but I love this tree so much that I’d take dozens.  A little tip that I have learned the hard way — don’t try to transplant a redbud outside of the spring season.  They seriously don’t like it and will die.  If you want one of these get it now or else wait until next year.  End of season sales on Redbud trees is a sure sign of nursery that doesn’t really care what happens to your plants after they leave the shop.

laburnum anagyroides by Tim Waters via www.pithandvigor.comLaburnum anagyroides has a relatively small growing range (zone 5 – 7) and I happily happen to fall within that.  It makes me wonder why I don’t see these more often.  The flowers are similar to those of wisteria but are bright yellow and it is possible that their reputation as being poisonous is what makes them less than popular.  The question of poisonous-ness has however been questioned as there is no evidence in the last 100 years that anyone has ever died from ingesting the seeds.   There is a legend that if you dream about this tree, then adversity around you will be overcome by vigorous application of intelligent effort – I love these kind of practical legends….I think it is the German in me.  (Don’t count on anything too magical – just pure hard work and smarts.)   

fringe tree by Jenny Hsa via www.pithandvigor.comChionanthus virginicus (Fringe Tree or Old Man’s Beard) is a small tree/large shrub with a unique flower.  Rather than blooms with faces it has blooms that resemble a fringe or a scruffy beard (hence the obvious common names).  The airy appearance reminds me of a smoketree (cotinus croggygria) but the smell is what is also drawing me in (and it also likes my acid soil!).

Have I missed any obscure favorites of yours?  Or maybe you have discovered something new….Let me know — as I said — my list is constantly evolving.

 

images:  Halesia by Rochelle Greayer, Crataegus laevigata ‘Paul’s Scarlet’ (CC), Cercis canadensis by Kathleen Conklin (CC), Laburnum anagyroides by Tim Waters (CC – ND- NC) , Firng Tree by Jenny Hsu (CC – ND – NC) 

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Lowes.  This is a series that I am doing through the end of the year.   I am not an employee of Lowes and all opinions are my own.  See the other posts in this series. 

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6 Responses to A Flowering Tree Wish List

  1. I’ve never heard your tip about redbuds before and am interested in hearing more about that. I’ve always thought fall is the best time to plant woodies but that anytime was okay as long as you were willing to commit to sufficient irrigation.

    I think the Chionanthus pictured is actually C. retusus – also a delightful small tree, but with tighter flower clusters. We are lucky enough to have Chionanthus virginicus native to our home woods and babies are popping up along the woodline!

  2. Paul – I came across the redbud knowledge by way of one the tree experts at Cavicchio’s (one of the biggest plant wholesalers in New England). After having a couple of unsuccessful plantings (that took place outside of the spring season) he filled me in on this tip. It is quite redbud specific – other trees/woodies do not have this issue. My (fairly extensive but anecdotal) evidence supports his claim that you should only transplant redbuds in the spring.

  3. Thanks for the info and the qualifier! I visited Cavicchio’s a few years ago when the PPA was in Boston. It was very impressive and absolutely lived up to their terrific industry reputation. Thanks again :)

  4. Rochelle, consider adding a Styrax japonicus to your list. Several named varieties from which to choose. Well behaved small tree, very fragrant blossoms. A bench beneath, beverage in hand, warm spring sunshine…bliss!

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