The beginning of a golden summer


The goldenrain tree (Koelreuteria paniculata, below) is beginning to bloom, a sure sign that summer is imminent. The tree in my garden is twenty feet off the far side of the driveway, wedged between large hornbeams (the columnar sort that become oval shaped with age) and a wide spreading Jane magnolia. Driving through town one afternoon earlier this week I saw that three goldenrain planted in a large triangle of grass at a highway intersection are blooming, and with adequate space and sunlight the tree is quite beautiful with a full, rounded shape covered in pannicles of yellow flowers.

The blooms on my goldenrain are lovely, though more sparse, but remind me that next spring there will be another crop of seedlings covering the ground beneath the tree, and more scattered about the garden. I would be happy to be rid of the tree for all the labor it causes, but that is a more considerable task, and with the damage that would be inevitable to the neighboring trees and shrubs that is enough reason to live with it a while longer.

The goldenrain is distinct from the golden chain tree (Laburnum, above) that bloomed early in May. Both have compound leaves, but golden chain’s are glossier, and the blooms of golden chain are more pendulous and a brighter yellow, and considerably more attractive (as visitors to my garden will attest). I have a weeping cultivar of the golden chain, and until late spring this year I had been disappointed in it’s growth since it was planted several years ago. I feared that this tree that is native to cooler climes of Europe would not adapt well to my Virginia garden, but then it doubled in size in a few weeks, and today I am delighted to recommend it (though I don’t think that I would be comfortable planting in any area further to the south).

There has never been a question whether goldenrain tree is well suited to my garden. It is a vigorous grower, wider than it is tall, and I believe that it will grow in any soil that is on the dry side, and in full sun, or at least most of a day’s sun. Considering the problem with seedlings I would expect that this issue could be resolved to a large extent by planting the tree in lawn rather than in a garden bed. Some seeds would find their way across the lawn to the garden, but the worst of the problem is beneath the tree, and I would be much happier to pull a few hundred seedlings than many thousands.

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