suggestion for specimen tree that looks good winter/spring/fall

clafoutiMarch 21, 2011


It has been a long winter! I am really looking forward to dealing with the blank canvas that is my back yard. The area is about 40' x 40' and receives a fair amount of sun. The soil is somewhat acidic.

I am looking for a tree that can be grown as a specimen. In the front, I already have Japanese weeping maple, another kind of Japanese maple (bloodgood I think), dogwood, pieris japonica, arborvitae, boxwood, white lacecap hydrangea. I am planning to repeat at least some of those in the back.

I want something that looks good fall/winter/spring.

I was originally thinking of getting a magnolia stellata, but I am not sure if it is the best choice from the "looking good all year" perspective.

Suggestions would be greatly appreciated - Thanks!

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You could add juniper,conifer too.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2011 at 8:41PM
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One tree that I must have is the autumnal cherry (Prunus subhirtella 'Autumnalis') It blooms lightly in the winter during warm spells (several times) and then fully during the spring. It makes me so happy when I look out the back windows and see pink dainty flowers in the bleak winter. Many times we have had freezing rain or a light snow fall on my blooming tree. The only thing she does that I don't like is send up suckers. I just prune them off.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2011 at 9:01PM
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karinl(BC Z8)

I get tired of all my plants putting on their best show in spring, so i enjoy something that appeals at other times.

One that I enjoy is Heptacodium. It flowers late, and is very attractive to bees; always some action on the tree. It has kind of cool peeling bark as well as an attractive branch structure. Once it is done flaowering, the red bracts are often attractive on the tree well into fall. Its foliage is otherwise unspectacular and fall colour is just yellow.

Hamamelis cultivars ('Diane' or 'Jelena' for instance) bloom very early, in January here, and are spectacular when they catch the afternoon winter sun. In summer they fade into the background with just green leaves, but have spectacular autumn colour. They sucker too, though, but the suckers are just right at the base.

Many plants commonly grown as shrubs can be trained as trees. I've seen Purple Smoke bushes that are trees, and I also have a Hibiscus syriacus (rose of sharon) 'Red Heart' that is trained as a tree, and again, because it flowers late in the season, it is always a much appreciated feature. The bees love it too, and the grey branches make it an attractive winter presence. Vitex is another shrub that can be a tree, also spectacular late in the season.


    Bookmark   March 21, 2011 at 10:48PM
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korean stewardia

    Bookmark   March 22, 2011 at 8:35AM
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I'd suggest a Stewartia also, although I'm not sure I'd narrow it down to a species.....they ALL offer something :-) Stewartias are very much 4 season trees -- they have a unique, zigzagging branching structure that is very apparent in winter, blue-green foliage tinged with a purple cast in spring, white, camellia-like flowers in summer, and outstanding fall color. And established trees will develop an exfoliating bark feature of camouflage-like patches. They are not prone to pests or diseases and stay in scale with most gardens. All they require is slightly acidic soils, good drainage and some water in the driest periods.

An excellent tree choice.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2011 at 10:37AM
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Thank you for all the great ideas! I am thinking of putting some of the smaller suggested trees along the perimeter and maybe a Stewartia in the middle - or maybe a Katura "Marioka"...

    Bookmark   March 23, 2011 at 7:15PM
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