Friday, April 1, 2011

My Top 10 Favorite Ornamental Trees

What I call an "Ornamental" tree is a tree that doesn't get too tall, and a tree that either has beautiful blooms or some other eye catching charateristic.  Here are my favorite top ten:

Cherokee Princess Dogwood   -  Cornus florida 'Cherokee Princess'   - My absolute favorite ornamental tree.  Naturally it takes the most care.  I'll wager more than 1/2 of these I have planted for customers have since died or had to be removed due to desease.  If you're up to the challenge of maintaining this tree, it will pay dividends with absolute beauty.  An Irrigation system can be a big help. 
Kousa Dogwood  -  Cornus kousa 'Milky Way' -
Flowers of this species emerge 2 to 3 weeks after the American Dogwoods and each bract tapers to a point. Foliage changes to reddish purple in the fall. Abundant white flower bracts and heavy fruit set. Reddish purple fall color.   A significat reason I like this tree is that it has the beauty of the Cornus florida without the difficulty of keeping it alive and healthy.
Yoshino Cherry -  P. x yedoensis -  Famous for early white blooms covering the streets of Washington, DC.  Easy to transplant and grow, readily available, and low maintenance.

Bloodgood Japanese Maple  - Acer palmatum 'Bloodgood'  -  I like most Japanese Maples but this one stands out.  Easy to transplant, takes little care.  Can get as tall as 20 feet and has a nice uniform growth habit. Narrowly lobed leaves are often dissected creating a lacy appearance. Good red purple color through the season.

Saucer Magnolia  -  Magnolia x soulangiana - Spectacular show of flowers in early spring.  Saucer Magnolia is a multi-stemmed, spreading tree.  It almost looks like a big shrub.   It can get to 20 feet tall with a 20 foot spread.  Another feature is its  bright and attractive gray bark.
Kentucky Coffetree  -  Gymnocladus dioicus  -  This is a medium-growing tree that is a must if you want 'something different'.  The coarse branch texture in the winter is quite unique, forming an interesting silhouette of only several large branches. Large seed pods hang on the tree in the. The pod contains seeds which used to be roasted as a coffee substitute.
Weeping Blue Atlas Cedar - Cedrus atlantica 'Glauca Pendula'  -
A stately specimen when mature. Will tolerate moist conditions but no standing water. Needs shelter from strong winds. Beautiful weeping habit with bluish needles.
Contorted Filbert - Also know as Henry Lauder's Walking Stick - 'Contorta'  -  Only for weird folks like me.
Crape Myrtle - Lagerstroemia 'Natchez'  -  Couldn't have a list of showy trees and not mention a great staple in our area.  I like the Natchez for the ease of its care and nice consistent blooms.  Proper pruning in Janurary or February is about the only care this tree normally needs.
Forest Pansy Redbud - Cercis canadensis 'Forest Pansy'  - Reddish purple flowers in early spring before the heart shaped leaves. Medium grower. New growth is purplish red turning to purplish green in late spring. Reddish-purple flowers.

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