Archive for the ‘Gardening’ Category

Trees for Fall Color

November 26, 2017

Craving more fall color? These 10 trees guarantee a good show
 

An ancient maple lights up the autumn scene on a farm near Aldie, Va.

Red maple

Gingko

Scarlet oak

Sassafras

Flowering dogwood

Japanese maple

Baldcypress

Persian parrotia

Japanese stewartia

The lack of rain and lingering summer warmth can diminish the fall color show. But even with a reduced display, the pageantry of this finale forms one of the sweetest garden moments of the year.

Some of your garden plants are going to present magical progressions of color whether you planned for them or not. But if you actively choose and cultivate autumn beauties, you can forgo that trip to New England and have your own show at home. All right, that might be a bit of a stretch, but the point is, there are many shade trees, ornamental trees and shrubs with above-par displays.

In selecting 10 of my favorite fall-color trees, I realized that all of them are simply great garden plants of year-round beauty and interest. This is not a planting kit that every garden should have, but suggestions for individual plants that will enhance your landscape. Even if you had an acre or two for the entire lot, chances are your soil and shade conditions wouldn’t work for them all, nor would your overall planting design.

My list is far from comprehensive. It doesn’t include shrubs, for example, such as sumacs, or crape myrtles or aronias or blueberry bushes, all of which can have spectacular coloration. One tries to curb one’s enthusiasm.

SHADE TREES

Shade trees cast shade, but they tend to like their heads in the sun. When choosing a site to plant one, worry more about the eventual width than the height.

Red maple (Acer rubrum): The sugar maple is the poster tree for fall color, but it is likely to be stressed by the heat and humidity of the Mid-Atlantic unless you’re in the mountains. There is a Southern version (A. saccharum subspecies floridanum), but its fall color is not as strong. Enter the red maple, a native tree valued for its fast growth, symmetrical form, smooth gray bark and gorgeous fall color. It is tolerant of poor and wet soils (conditions that lead to more surface roots). Somerset is one of three seedless introductions from the National Arboretum developed for long-lasting, bright red fall coloration and for resistance to a pest called the leafhopper.

Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba): Putting aside its curiosity value as a prehistoric species, the ginkgo is also a handsome and durable tree. It is versatile, too, and can be used as a street tree, a garden specimen and a high screen. Ginkgos have lofty, open branches full of those distinctive fan-shaped leaves. The big issue with the ginkgo is its fruit — it’s messy, it smells, and it drops over several weeks in early fall. The fruit’s nuts are prized in some East Asian cultures, but if you or your heirs don’t want them, the answer is a male clone such as Autumn Gold.

Baldcypress (Taxodium distichum): This is a fine-textured conifer with the unusual trait of dropping all its needles before winter. But before they are shed, the leaves shift from bright green to a burnished orange. The effect can be stunning when backlit by the low afternoon sun. The cypress is native to Southern bottomlands and looks best grouped in groves of at least three, if you have the space. In wet areas, the red-brown trunks form handsome buttresses and “knees,” but it is happy in average soil once established and watered during dry spells.

Black gum (Nyssa sylvatica): Few hardwoods have as reliably stunning fall color as the black gum, also known as the sour gum or black tupelo. The foliage is especially bright and progresses from yellow, orange and scarlet yo, finally, red-purple. It is a slow grower and matures to a medium-size tree. It likes moist soil and will take periods of inundation but not continuously wet soils. It is taproot-ed, and I’d prefer to plant a young container-grown plant rather than a field-dug balled-and-burlap tree. Given its finicky roots, some horticulturists believe it is better to plant in the spring, when the tree is in growth mode. A number of improved varieties have been developed for prolonged leaf color and leaf-spot resistance. In addition to Wildfire, look for Red Rage and Afterburner.

Scarlet oak (Quercus coccinea): Oaks tend to be subdued in their fall coloration, but the scarlet oak is striking for its glowing, deeply lobed red foliage. It does well in average soil and optimally in moist but not wet soils, growing as much as two feet a year. It is hard to find in garden centers because its taproot makes it difficult to transplant.

ORNAMENTAL TREES

Ornamental trees are essential focal points and prized specimens in any garden, and their reduced scale makes them ideal for placement in city gardens, next to a patio, along a path or at points of transition in the landscape. All of them benefit from deft and careful pruning when young to develop a pleasing branch structure.

Persian parrotia (Parrotia persica): As with other large woody plants, the parrotia grows as either a big, multi-stemmed shrub or as a small tree, with a single stem and low branches. Picking a tree form comes down to selecting individual plants in the nursery. Related to the witch hazel and with similar large oval leaves, the parrotia is a standout at this time of year, when the foliage turns yellow, orange and maroon. With age, the exfoliating bark of the parrotia becomes its other extraordinary asset, mottled in gray, green, brown and cream.

Flowering dogwood (Cornus florida): The native dogwood is beloved for its large white blossoms of spring, but its fall show isn’t too shabby, either. The leaves turn wine-red in early autumn as a reassuring harbinger of fall and winter. Variety selection, location and care are vital in keeping a tree happy and healthy. Appalachian Spring is a superior variety selected for its resistance to anthracnose disease. Other named varieties in the Appalachian series offer protection against powdery mildew disease.

Japanese maple (Acer palmatum): Japanese maples have beautiful and unexpected combinations of autumn leaf colors. The green-leafed varieties are among the most

Black gum

striking in their autumn coloration. Osakazuki is a classic variety, low-branched and spreading. The fall color is an intense crimson red.

Sassafras (Sassafras albidum): Valued initially for its bark tea, sassafras is a handsome small tree that forms suckering thickets with time, making it useful for outlying naturalistic parts of a landscape. The suckers can be removed to keep a single specimen, however. The distinctive lobed leaf is a dark glossy green in summer, turning golden and then a rich scarlet in the fall. This is another taprooted native that is best planted as a young container-grown plant. It grows quickly once established.

Japanese stewartia (Stewartia pseudocamellia): Related to camellias, the Japanese stewartia is valued for its fall color, elegant form and, with age, beautiful bark patterns. Individual branch structure varies, so this is one you should pick out at the nursery. Some horticulturists prefer to plant stewartias in the spring. The Korean stewartia is a closely related species and will do the job just as well, perhaps better in sometimes brutal Arkansas summers.

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Good suggestions for trees to plant

November 4, 2012

 

I grabbed the following from http://www.mnn.com/your-home/organic-farming-gardening/stories/the-best-trees-for-urban-and-suburban-yards but since it might not be there forever… I cut and pasted the following from it:

 

What to look for in an urban tree

In choosing an urban tree, look for the following qualities:
• Appropriately fast growth to a size at full maturity that provides enough shade without becoming overwhelming or dangerous. Keep trees under 30 feet tall around utility lines or in restricted spaces. Also avoid trees with strong, wide-reaching roots that could damage foundations or sidewalks.
• The ability to grow in your hardiness zone, as shown on this U.S. Department of Agriculture map
• Partial shade tolerance, if necessary
• A tolerance for salt and potentially weak urban soils, which tend to be dry, compact and sandy
• The ability to tolerate pollution, pests, diseases and other urban ravages
• Strong, sturdy limbs
• Lack of thorns, particularly around children.
A few good trees
Though it seems like a tall order, here are a few trees that fit the bill. The U.S. Forest Servicethe Ortho Books Complete Guide to Trees and Shrubs, and the Cornell University horticulture department all endorse these trees for urban gardens.
Amur maple: This native of China and Japan is more tolerant of a range of soils and shade conditions than some maples, and grows up to 20 feet tall and wide. It is showy and bright red in the fall, and very cold-tolerant, growing well in zones 3 to 8.
Cumulus serviceberry: This single-trunk tree attracts birds and offers year-round color, with white spring flowers, small red summer berries and orange fall leaves. It is ideal for streetside planting, and also grows in zones 3 to 8. It reaches 25 feet tall and 15 feet wide.
American hornbeam: Also known as musclewood, the tall hornbeam typically has a long sinewy trunk capped with a ball of blue-green leaves. The shape lends itself to streetside planting, and grows in zones 3 to 9. It grows slowly, and hardily tolerates flooding and shade. It reaches up to 30 feet tall and 25 feet wide.
Goldenrain tree: This tree only grows from zones 5B to 9. However, this 30-foot tree makes up for not tolerating cold by tolerating heat, drought, pollution and poor soils. It also has bright yellow flowers in the summer when few other plants are flowering.
Crabapples: The hundreds of varieties of crabapple tree have beautiful white, pink or red flowers, and namesake fruits that last well into the fall. Sizes vary but many don’t exceed 15 feet tall or wide. Be sure to choose a disease-resistant cultivar. The forest service recommends the “David” for its creamy white flowers, and “Prairiefire” for its pinkish-red flowers.
Japanese tree lilac: This pest-resistant tree grows to 25 feet tall and 15 feet wide and flowers best in full sun, but tolerates partial shade. It has large clusters of summer flowers, but they may only appear in full bloom every other year. It grows in zones 3 to 7, but may face some problems in warmer Southern climates.

Flowers and Shrubs & the heat of summer!

July 24, 2011

This article appeared in the Arkansas Democrat Gazette on 7/2/11 – I wanted to capture it here for reference sake so that we might make some intelligent decisions for our backyard garden when we’re ready to plant.

Turn up the heat! These plants will thrive when summer sizzles
STORY AND PHOTOS BY JANET CARSON

You know the saying, “If you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen.” The same goes for an Arkansas garden: If plants can’t take the heat, they shouldn’t be there!
Summer has already been a scorcher, as well as dry in most areas of the Natural State. Rainfall has been spotty at best. Even for gardeners who are diligent in their watering, some plants seem to be faring better than others.
Color in the garden is something most gardeners strive for every season, whether blooming shrubs, perennials or annuals. When choosing plants for the landscape, consider their season of interest and how adaptable they are.
The first step is to look at the USDA climatic zone map, by which plants are rated for their hardiness. We have three such zones in Arkansas. The bulk of the state is Zone 7 (average low winter temperature of zero), while south Arkansas is Zone 8 and north Arkansas is Zone 6. Keep in mind the only piece of information you get from this hardiness zone map is the average low winter temperature. It doesn’t tell you anything about summer heat, rainfall or humidity.
So use this as a guide, not as your gardening bible, because while many plants are rated for our climatic zones, some aren’t as tolerant of summer as others. Still, we do have a wide range of plants that can take the heat. Some require ample water, while others withstand hot and dry conditions.
SHRUBS, SMALL TREES
Few plants are as associated with the South as crape myrtles and most are thriving, even in this summer’s weather. They not only take heat, but do well in dry conditions. The more sunlight they get, the better they like it. While they are drought tolerant, a little extra water can go a long way in helping them with their flowering ability. Deadheading (cutting the spent flowers) can also put more energy into new blooms.
Other shrubs and small trees that are blooming now include Vitex, or chaste tree; Buddleia (also spelled Buddleja), or butterfly bush; Althea, or rose of Sharon; and summerflowering spireas. Abelia has been around for a while, and keeps on blooming regardless of the weather. New varieties give you options on size and foliage color.
Our native Clethra, or summersweet, is blooming now in sun to partial shade and has fragrant flowers which are quite attractive to bees and butterflies.
NATIVE PLANTS
Speaking of native plants, because they rely on Mother Nature to water them, they have to be tough to survive an average Arkansas summer. Some natives that are blooming now include the spiky perennial Liatris, or gayfeather; the lovely orange butterfly weed, Aesclepias tuberosa, with its strong taproot; and Echinacea, or purple coneflower.
Nativars and improved cultivars of our native species are readily available at many nurseries and garden centers. With Echinacea, if you don’t like the native pink variety, they now come in red, orange, white and yellow. Coupling a little moisture and fertilizer with deadheading encourages them to bloom for months.
Gaillardia, or blanket flower, is a tough Oklahoma native that loves hot, dry weather. So does Gaura, with a summer-long explosion of pink and white flowers. Goldenrod is a long-lived perennial with a long season of flowering — and no one is allergic to it, even though it is often blamed for hay fever instead of the real culprit, ragweed. The hotter and drier it is, the happier the goldenrod is. And don’t forget sunflowers. The native saw-toothed sunflower blooms a long time, but give it room since it can grow quite tall.
OTHER PERENNIALS
Other perennials with long staying power include Ruellia, or Mexican petunia; yarrow, with a wide array of flower colors; old-fashioned Crinum lily, which is also winter hardy in at least half the state; and the long-blooming catmint (Nepeta x faassenii).
Agastache is another great perennial with lots of colors to choose from. It blooms all season, and bees and butterflies love it. Monarda, or bee balm, and almost all of the ornamental grasses tolerate heat and drought.
SUCCULENTS, SILVER LEAVES
Succulents are plants that have thick, fleshy leaves. Just by their appearance, you know they can take dry conditions. Some are groundcovers and others grow 2 feet tall. Hens and chicks, Sedums and Euphorbias are proven performers. Yuccas and cactus can also take very dry conditions, but make sure they fit the style of your landscape.
Silver-foliage plants are another group of plants that give you clues to their heat adaptability by their appearance. Lamb’s ears, Artemesia, dusty miller and old-fashioned rose campion prefer poor, dry sites. Too much water and they fade away. They also do very well in hot conditions.
TROPICAL
Tropical plants love heat and humidity, so are quite at home in the summer garden in Arkansas. While they won’t survive winter outdoors, they can be protected inside or carried over in a protected garage or storage building.
Or you can simply buy new plants every season. Since they basically bloom from the day you buy them until a killing frost, they are a good source of color, so a great investment, even if just for one season.
Hibiscus, Bougainvillea and Mandevilla are popular and have been around for years but try some of the more unusual ones that grace our markets: Jatropha has clusters of pink flowers, while Ixora has clusters of yellow or orange flowers. Tibouchina has large, velvety purple flowers while Plumeria has fragrant, large flowers in a wide range of colors and esperanza is a sea of yellow all summer. Mandevilla is usually associated with hot pink flowers but now comes in white, red and several shades of pink.
While most tropical flowers do best in full sun, there are some that will take the shade. Chrysothemis, or “Black Flamingo” flower; Plectranthus “Mona Lavender”; butterfly Clereodendron; and bromeliads can add color in the shade. Remember, because most tropical plants are grown in pots, they need regular watering and fertilization because frequent watering leaches nutrition.
HOUSEPLANTS
Most of our houseplants are also tropical plants, albeit grown more for their foliage than flowers. They can make great accents in the shade garden. Everything from Dracenas and Philodendrons to mother-in-law’s tongues (or Sansevieria), arrowhead plants and Chinese evergreens can be planted in the ground for the season, or their pots can be interspersed in the outdoor landscape.
Croton is a great houseplant for seasonal color in full sun. The more light it gets, the more color the foliage has, and it blends beautifully in fall gardens with its array of orange, yellow and red foliage. And we now have a wide selection of palms, some hardy and some not, that can give a tropical feel to the landscape. Bananas in standard and dwarf sizes are also showstoppers in the summer landscape. New varieties are now winter hardy statewide, but don’t produce bananas.
SUMMER ANNUALS
And last, let’s not forget summer annuals. Annuals have to be planted every season, but they give a great deal of color for relatively little care. Some are more heat tolerant than others, and water needs vary. Some of the most heat-tolerant varieties include Lantana, Pentas, Angelonia (summer snapdragon), Melampodium, periwinkle, Cosmos and sweet potato vine. Coleus and Begonia can take sun or shade, and Impatiens and Caladium thrive all summer if they get ample moisture.
Petunias and Callibrachoa will bloom all summer, if you keep them well fertilized. If you don’t, you won’t have constant color. If summer annuals get leggy, pinch them back, fertilize and water and they should rebound, lasting until a killing frost. If you forget to water and they burn up, replacements are still available at local nurseries.
VISIT GARDENS, NURSERIES
Visit other gardens or botanical gardens to get ideas. If they are doing well now, think how well they would do in a milder season. Keep a journal or a list of plant ideas. Visit nurseries even in the summer. The great thing about being a gardener is you can never have it all. There is always a new variety or cultivar on the horizon.
To learn more, plan to attend the Aug. 4 Rice Expo at the Rice Research and Extension Center, 2900 Arkansas 130 E. in Stuttgart. “Plants that can take the heat” is the last topic in a jam-packed day of events with everything from rice information to cooking, insects, diseases and plants. It all begins at 9:30 a.m. For more information, contact your local county Extension office.

Althea, or rose of Sharon, a shrub

Bougainvillea, a tropical plant

Asian moon Buddleia, a shrub

Lamb’s ear, a silver-leafed plant

Echinacea, or purple coneflower, native of Arkansas

Butterfly weed, native of Arkansas

Ixora, a tropical plant

Coleus, summer annuals

Pink Cosmos, summer annual

Double purple Althea, a shrub