What is a garden without the trees? Bare and boring! Without a good tree you lose the shade they provide, the elegant grace that trees offer as a focal point, the fruit the tree may bear, the benefit to the wildlife around us – I think you agree, you just have to have a tree! But what trees would you pick? And which one’s would I always want planted in yard?
Here are my picks for this week’s Friday Five!
Japanese maple leaf
When I was a kid living at my grandfather’s house there was a row of trees on one side of the driveway. The trees had been there as long as I had known and had knotty roots along the surface of the soil, thick branches that hung low, and were the perfect trees for climbing. I can’t tell you how many times I climbed this one tree in particular but I’m sure if I had been counting I would have lost count! I remember being underneath it in the shade while the hot summer sun beat down. I remember fondly how great those maple trees were! Ever since I’ve always loved a maple tree (Acer younameit ;)). In our yard I’ve planted four maples, each of which is either a red maple or a hybrid red maple. My grandfather’s were most likely silver maples which can be troublesome because of its roots that rise to the surface of the ground. I also added six Japanese maples to the mix, some of those are planted in memory of my father.
‘Yoshino’ cherry flower
Yoshino cherry trees are another favorite that I just can’t get enough of in my garden! So far we have three. Two of which I planted and one that I rescued after a deer mauled it at my mother-in-law’s house. The poor tree was nothing but a stump with a shoot when I rescued it. Now it’s about 8 feet tall and may even bloom for us for the first time this spring! The white blooms are gorgeous every spring. The next cherry I get I want to be an ‘Okame’ cherry which is one of the earliest cherries to bloom. It has more of a pink color blossom.
- Birches are great trees for their bark, but I also enjoy the dappled shade they provide. Their leaves are much smaller than that of a maple but the fast growing nature of the birch allows them to get to a good size to cast shade in just a couple years. One birch that I planted in a low spot is almost as tall as our house now and it’s only been planted for three years! Birches like moisture and if you have a location that gets periodic pooling or you have a stream nearby you probably have a good site for your river birch! Plant it, put a bench down under it, and enjoy! Birch trees make an excellent choice for rain gardens. The ‘Heritage’ River birch comes highly recommended.
‘Forest Pansy’ redbud
Along the Cumberland Plateau every spring the redbuds (Cercis canadensis) bloom and create an amazing portrait of spring. The roadsides are lined with the light purple color of their blossoms. I always enjoyed the drive during that time of year, it always felt like I was inside of a painting. Which is probably why I’ve transplanted several into our yard over the years. I also purchased on special redbud ‘Forest Pansy’. ‘Forest Pansy’ has dark purple leaves which are stunning in spring. The leaves eventually change to a green color during the heat of summer. There are also weeping forms of redbuds, none of which I have, must to my disappointment. If I even come across one in a nursery it may be coming home with me! Redbuds can be short lived trees but I believe their beauty makes up for that. The tend to enjoy living underneath other larger trees but can tolerate a wide arrange of growing conditions.
Cornus florida dogwood flower
And last but not least the dogwood. It’s one of my wife’s favorite trees so for that reason alone I have to put it here! 😉 But it’s definitely worthy of being listed. The trouble with dogwood is in its disease resistance. Anthracnose and powdery mildew are the two most common ailments but plant propagators have been working on a number of hybrids and seeking out resistant specimens like ‘Appalachian Spring’. I had that dogwood once until a deer decided it made a good scratching post! I’ve added two dogwoods since then. One is just an ordinary white flowering dogwood while the other is called ‘Constellation’. ‘Constellation’ is a hybrid of Cornus kousa and Cornus florida. It blooms later than Cornus florida and doesn’t produce fruit.
There you have five of my favorites, although I have to say I admire so many more than just five. These were all deciduous and there are many evergreens that would be worth spending some time talking about. Maybe they will be another list of five? Until then check out the last couple Friday Fives!
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