Front Yard Small Flowering Tree Suggestions

farmboy1(5)March 25, 2013

I am looking for a tree to replace the one in the picture. The area is in a front yard, with a strong eastern exposure. It will get sun in the morning, but not too much in the later afternoons. Soil is pretty good, and it is far from the street.

I'd like to find something interesting looking that will bloom nicely in the spring, and not get more than 15 or so feet high. Closer to the house flanking the door are two service berries that have white flowers and red leaves in the fall. Pink flowers? A fruit tree is possible, as I already have 2 pears and one apple to the south, and a black tartarian cherry to the north.



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Chionanthus virginicus

Well, it is white flowering like your serviceberries, BUT it is a very underused slow growing small tree. Fragrant flowers, pretty yellow fall color, and fits your size requirements for a very long time. Actually, by the time it gets over 20', it may just be your favorite tree in your yard ;)

Of course there are many crabapples that fit your description as well in several flower, fruit, and fall color combinations.

Cornus florida 'Cherokee Chief' fits the height req for a very long time also and has your red flowers. If you want pink, c. florida 'Cherokee Brave' would be your choice.

Cornus x 'Rutgan' Stellar Pink worth a look though it seems to take a while to bloom after transplanting.

As Ken says, they are trees and don't stop at a predetermined height. They just slow down their growth when they get around to it. The only way to know for sure what a tree will do in your yard is to plant it!!!


ps - the philosophy of the last sentence can get very expensive relatively quickly ;-)

Here is a link that might be useful: MOBOT plant finder

    Bookmark   March 25, 2013 at 7:18PM
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Is that a Sango Kaku Japanese Maple you're replacing?

As you doubtless know from your other trees, bloom times are often a brief interlude in the growing season. While flowers are pretty, be mindful of how it's going to look the rest of the time.

Some trees, like Trident Maple, can be quite attractive without the flowers, and non-floral features often last longer.


    Bookmark   March 25, 2013 at 11:42PM
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That is a, heh, heh, red twig dogwood tree that should be a shrub.

I thought about the leaves themselves being an interesting point, but have a liking for flowers and berries/fruits.

Chionanthus sounds interesting, as does Cherokee Brave. Need to see which would be best or if I can find a place for both....

But Ken hasn't replied yet....


    Bookmark   March 26, 2013 at 12:03AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

i do this mostly in the morning ...

anyway.. lets start here.. for a guy.. whose history here at GW is scrounging free plants.. and dragging them around chained to his bumper.. well.. that is one mighty fine house .... with said history.. it was either this house.. or a tar paper shack.. glad i can congrat you on this fine specimen .. lol .. did you 'save' it ??? or buy it that way ...

my only point.. was going to be the ephemeral nature of flowering trees.. one week long blast of flower.. and then plain old green the rest of the year .... so i guess o would suggest some kind of variegated tree .. that would give you a 'show' .. all year long ...

and my usual fallback would be a tricolor beech ... and though it has a tendency to brown out on the white edged in late summer [the pink fades to cream and then to crunch] .... with your sun exposure.. it might look mighty fine in front of that mighty fine house.. see pix below ...

another alternative.. would be a .. and i love this name.. whenever i type the name.. i hear it whispered in echo in my head.. a variegate liquidamber ... i will link to this one ... and incredible fragrance on crushing a leaf ...

think outside your box..

and listen to me... SPEND MONEY ON IT ... its in front of that gorgeous house ... dont go bargain on this .. you might end up with a redtwig dogwood out front.. lol ... [BTW.. will you be dragging it out back??? .. lol] ...

ignore the dwarf ... he's 11 now.. i am bummed ....

Here is a link that might be useful: link

    Bookmark   March 26, 2013 at 9:11AM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

I'm just wondering about the available light in that position. If the dogwood has grown lopsided where it is, it is fairly likely that any other tree planted there would suffer too. Is it a shaded spot? Or is the dogwood just naturally misshapen?

    Bookmark   March 26, 2013 at 11:35AM
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I would recommend a flowering Crab Apple tree. There are lots of different cultivars and different sizes including 15 feet.
I know that you are in the UK, and I am in South-central Kansas, but perhaps you can find the following publication useful.

Here is a link that might be useful: Flowering Crabapples

    Bookmark   March 26, 2013 at 4:37PM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

Plantingman - I am not the OP. He is in the US.

Thanks for the info anyway, though. My entire plot is smaller than the OP's front lawn and although I did have a Malus 'Golden Hornet', I eventually cut it down because it was an inelegant shape and clung on to its rotting brown fruit all through the winter making it look horrible.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2013 at 5:56PM
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whaas_5a(5A SE WI)

I'd suggest staying away from the Rosaceae family since you already listed a few above already in your yard.

I'd second the pink flowering Cornus kousa or florida hybrid choice. Good light conditions, pink flowers would pop with home colors and the bonus of red fall color which would also look good with the home.

Maybe TJ would be kind enough to posts pics of his Satomi.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2013 at 8:31PM
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Oops, sorry, flora. I was trying to do more than one thing when I posted that. I guess it is not a good idea to multi-task while posting on GW - at least not two things that each require your attention.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2013 at 8:36PM
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Wow, so much to respond to...and so many good ideas!

I live in the US, about 60 miles west of Chicago, IL. The Dogwood was dug up by me and transplanted in my yard almost three years ago. It was that way. The light in the location is good, but it is sheltered from the harsh afternoon sun and wind by the house.

The tree should remain fairly small,as I'd like it to not grow huge and overwhelm the house. I have other large trees in that part of the yard,

And thanks, Ken, for the nice words about the house! With all the stuff I've added to the yard, it would have been expensive to buy them all, not to mention the difficulty of finding large specimens. And they needed new homes.. More info below.

I will spend money once I figure out what I like and will fit best. I like the color of the tricolor beech, but it might be too much there. Possibly the cornus or kousa, but those may be too common. Hmmm.

The house...built in 1895 by a wealthy Civil War vet and farmer/businessman, was vacant for 3-5 years until I bought it to start off 2010 after watching it for 2+ years. I'm the fourth owner. Previous owners made good efforts to keep it up, but neither were either willing/able to spend lots of money or concerned with quality work that matched the style of the house. It was very liveable, but the systems need updating, and the exterior needs repainting and replacement of some of the woodwork. Interior is surprisingly unmolested, but needs proper decorating and white paint removed from nice wood doors. So I have a great deal of work to keep me busy....

This post was edited by farmboy1 on Tue, Mar 26, 13 at 22:58

    Bookmark   March 26, 2013 at 10:38PM
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I have a variegated liquidamber, and I'm thinking it would size out too large for your wants, but it's a dandy. You certainly don't want the spiny balls from hell in your lawn, either. I know one can buy infertile sweet gums, but I've not seen any variegated. (doesn't mean they don't exist). I'm a sucker for crabapples as well, but if you want a sweet, low maintenance and pretty unique tree with gorgeous (fairly long lasting) bloom and a great shape consider aesculus pavia (red buckeye). Relatively pest free, we never have had to prune or shape any of ours and they're a hummer magnet. I've had people pull in our place and ask what it is when it's in bloom.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2013 at 3:02AM
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arktrees(6b NW Arkansas)

Agree with John on the Chionanthus virginicus. If you have a female tree with a male around you will also get very attractive dark blue "berries" (actually a drupe) in late summer as well. First choice IMHO.

For Kousa dogwoods, there are some very nice more unusual cultivars with pink flowers you might be interested in.

Cornus kousa âÂÂAkatsukiâÂÂ; Varigated tree with varigated pink flower bracts. Slower growing, and therefore probable smaller.

Cornus kousa âÂÂBeni Fujiâ : Small semi-dwarf (10-15' after many years) Kousa dogwood, with probable the best pink flower bracts. Also more disease resistant than the other 'pink' kousa's. Excellent fall color, and good colorful red fruit production. Downside, it can be more difficult to locate, and somewhat pricey (i.e. $50-100 for a somewhat smaller tree than you usually find at that price), but that is partly a function of it slower growth and smaller size at maturity.

Cornus kousa 'Wolfeyesâ : Multi-color varigation with some pink mixed in. Multi-color fall color, Produces white flower bracts. Not a large tree either.


This post was edited by arktrees on Wed, Mar 27, 13 at 20:44

    Bookmark   March 27, 2013 at 9:28AM
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What about a small magnolia tree? Perhaps a star magnolia or sweetbay. They are beautiful and don't get very big.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2013 at 11:23AM
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Wow, lots more good ideas!

A friend has a regular sweetgum , and it is pretty big. He hates the spiny balls. The other side of the yard has a star magnolia, hawthorn, and a young ohio buckeye.

The red buckeye is interesting, as is the chionanthus, kousa, rosaceae, and crabapples. I think it will depend on what I can find easily, but I'm thinking that once I walk around my yard, I may have homes for more than one....


    Bookmark   March 27, 2013 at 6:50PM
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"...I may have homes for more than one...."


    Bookmark   March 27, 2013 at 7:06PM
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whaas_5a(5A SE WI)

If you go the Fringe tree route be sure to consider that it is late to leaf out. Some folks are bothered by that.

My Fringe tree set fruit by the way. Guarantee there isn't a fringe tree within cities of me, lol.

By the way Rosaceae is a family of plants. It appears you don't have many tree in your yard however you listed 4 trees in your initial post all from the Rosaceae family.

I suggest diversifying from another family. With that said I'd take crabapple off the list. It would be fine to plant I'm just a big fan of diversifying.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2013 at 10:01PM
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Okay, spring may arrive sooner or later here, still have snow in the yard in April and only one day in the 60s for the year. So I'm slow getting out into the yard.

Since I'm probably not going to find any of these favored examples at the big box stores or the local nurseries (but I'll check), are there any preferred mail order places I should try?



    Bookmark   April 2, 2013 at 11:39PM
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shillanorth Z4 AB

Oh my gosh - I love, love, love your house!!!!!(old house nut) I was going to suggest something from the crabapple family as well. I love the spring blooms and there are several varieties that have reddish/purple foliage for summer interest and berries that persist through the winter(attractive to Bohemian waxwings). Two that come to mind are Thunderchild and Royal Splendor and there are more. Most nurseries should carry them and being in the Chicago area you would probably have a lot more hardy varieties to choose from than I do up here. Whatever you choose, it will look stunning against that house.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2013 at 8:02PM
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Gee, thanks! Old houses are another passion of mine, though the work never ends. The first is a picture of the NE corner, I've added a pic of the NW corner. It will be very interesting to see how all the greenery I've added over the past few years continues to develop. I would like to add a crab or two as you mention in addition to the others above. I need a bigger yard!

    Bookmark   April 6, 2013 at 11:09PM
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Vitex is another idea. They bloom quite a lot, more frequently than crabapple, for example. And they come in a range of colors, from deep purple, to pink, lavender and white.

Here is a link that might be useful: vitex pic

    Bookmark   April 7, 2013 at 10:33AM
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We just put in a China Snow Peking Lilac. It flowers in late spring/early summer when most others are done. Also the exfoliating bark will add winter interest.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2013 at 10:51AM
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shillanorth Z4 AB

Just another thought - this site is good for investigating the different species available at your local garden centres:
scroll down to Find Plants
click on any garden centre in the Chicago area - there are lots
click on All Plants
click on Deciduous Trees
Then click on any one that seems like it might be a possibility - height, spread, zone, pictures, pros/cons etc. I saw Weeping Higan Cherry - so beautiful, lots of old world charm too.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 4:44PM
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Okay, finallly after all the great suggestions I ended up spending some money....and wishing I had still more room for a few other great suggestions.

The Dogwoody shrub that wants too be a tree thing has been moved to the far back yard with other shrub Dogwoods. In it's place is a young Fringe Tree, Chionanthus Virginicus, about 5.5 feet tall from a local nursery.

Because there were so many good suggestions, I also picked up a Red Buckeye that was on sale at the same local nursery as it was leftover from last year. Looks good, lots of good buds. It is on the north side of the Virginicus, towards the back.

On the corner, between the two, is a rather columnar and tall 11' Tricolor Beech that I found after checking several Menard's stores (the first two I found were gone when I went back for them). It's in a great location, but sadly, I don't think it will end up working out too well. The tree has lots of good new buds, but I wasn't able to check it out real well when I saw it as it was raining pretty hard (the beginning of the deluge y'all saw on the TV of the Chicago area getting hammered). Once I had the hole dug and started to unpot it, I saw that it had been balled and burlapped before being put in the pot. Removing the burlap, it didn't have much of a rootball and looked to have a graft section that had been cut off when it was dug up. Hmm. My first thought was to bring it back, but then what else would I put in the hole I'd dug? Then I realized I have all year to see how it does before I have to bring it back.

So I planted it and am anxious to see how it goes through the spring and summer. I've had some things with a lesser rootball that survived well with some extra attention, and I figure I'll give this guy a chance at a happy life first. Picture is of the tree in the yard, trunk still wrapped and some staking in case the wind gets tough. Kind of hard to see with no leaves, though. Next picture is of the rootball and graft section.

Should be an interesting spring and summer, still need to find room for a Kousa, though...

    Bookmark   April 20, 2013 at 8:28PM
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And of the rootball...

    Bookmark   April 20, 2013 at 8:30PM
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Last night a friend who knew I was looking for a Tricolor Beech at a Menards sent me a note that the store near him had a '6' TCB for sale, plus a couple of Weeping Purple Beeches.

I went up there, checked out the TCB, saw that it had decent roots, and bought it as a backup if the other one doesn't make it. Not sure where I'll plant it for the time being.

Trees, trees, everywhere!

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 10:17PM
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Nice haul! I think you made some fine selections there =)

Make sure to update us with pics once everything is leafed out!!

I think rootball on the beech is small but OK, but if it bothers you, why not plant the other one and keep the suspect one in a pot as the backup?



    Bookmark   April 22, 2013 at 10:05AM
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Thanks, John!

I had lots of help with the selections and limited room, so that was made pretty easy.

I am a lazy guy.....I thought of digging up the one but decided it was best kept in place to see how it does. And the other was best kept in the pot it is in until I find another place for it. Voila! No more work on my part, just water them.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2013 at 12:52AM
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OKay, now an update on this since some leafing out hass started...

The Red Buckeye is doing very nicely, with lots of showy red flowers.

The Fringe Tree is leafing out nicely and beginning to flower, should be a nice looking specimen once it gets a bit more established.

The Tricolor Beech...the tall one in the picture with the small rootball still has not begun to leaf out. The buds that were on it when I planted it are still there, and there is green underneath the twigs, so it hasn't died...yet. It is mulched nicely and kept watered, but Ma Nature has been doing a good job of that lately.

The smaller backup Tricolor has leafed out and is doing nicely in it's pot. I'm not planting it until I know what's going to happen with the larger one.

So, any comments on the larger Tricolor and how much longer I should wait to see if it will survive?



    Bookmark   May 29, 2013 at 3:54PM
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