How many Redbud are enough in a garden? Of course it depends on the size of your plot, but in my one acre plus garden I have six, which could be enough. Or nearly enough.
I am convinced that there is no better tree than our native dogwood, though it occasionally suffers from mildew, blights, and cankers. It’s beauty in flower, leaf, and berry is unsurpassed, but our native Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis) can equal dogwood in many respects, and is tough as nails.
Both dogwood and redbud are considered small trees, maturing to less than thirty feet in height, and both flourish in the same woodland settings. The rosy-pink flowers reaching for sunlight at the edge of wooded areas along highways in early April are the native redbud, and though they will grow in shady spots they bloom best with more sun, and will tolerate full sun.
Redbuds appreciate a good garden soil with adequate moisture, but will survive in dry clay soils. Provided with a well suited location and regular moisture, redbud will bloom prolifically, follow with large, deep-green, heart-shaped leaves, and then yellow Fall color.
While the green leaved native tree is wonderful, there are a number of selections with colorful leaves, and the combination of Spring bloom and colorful foliage is enough to make you want to have one of every kind. For several cultivars I have two.
Forest Pansy redbud is the most popular of the redbud varieties with red-purple leaves that will fade somewhat as the season goes on. I have one planted in an area that has grown too shady from large forest maples so that it barely blooms, but still gets red leaves. The arching branches provide a canopy for that section of the garden.
The other Forest Pansy is in full sun. It is covered in blooms several days later than the other redbuds in the garden, and since the area it is planted in is just above an earthen pond its leaves stay much darker than other Forest Pansy’s I have seen in drier conditions. This has to be one of the finest small trees for the garden.
‘Silver Cloud’ redbuds are blotched with white, and early in the Spring with pink. From a distance the tree appears to be in bloom through the Summer. There are reports that Silver Cloud will fade in Summer’s heat, and also that it may revert back to green. I have two Silver Cloud planted so that they are shielded from the late day sun, but in an otherwise sunny location, and they fade so slightly that it’s hardly worth mention. I have had no reversion, so I don’t consider this much of a worry.
Though Silver Cloud is not widely available, it is a grand tree and should be more popular. I wouldn’t trade one of mine for two of any other tree.
Unless the two were ‘Hearts of Gold’ redbud, then I’d consider it. This is a relatively new introduction, and a wonderful tree for a spot in the garden that is shaded from the hot afternoon sun, though it should not be too shady because yellow leafed trees fade to a sickly looking green in shade. There are plenty of green redbuds that should attract attention.
‘Lavendar Twist’ or ‘Covey’ is a green leafed weeping redbud. It is quite compact, my tree is almost ten years old, has grown to touch the ground, but has not spread appreciably. This is an excellent tree for a small garden, even a townhouse garden where almost every tree gets too large.
Though this wraps up my redbud collection there are other outstanding selections worth considering. All bloom at about the same time, are sized similarly, and all are comparably trouble-free. Texas and Oklahoma redbuds are similar trees that are adapted to the harsh conditions of those areas, but are fine small trees for any garden. Leaves of both are heavier, and have a waxy sheen that help it deal with the harsh Summers. There are white buds and pink buds, and the differences, I think, explain themselves. The native redbud will do just fine for any garden, but if you want a bit of splash to last through the year redbud has plenty to offer.