This morning I saw that a large limb from the top of the Golden Raintree (Koelreuteria paniculata, below) was damaged in one of the severe storms that passed through yesterday. It crashed to the ground, barely avoiding a ‘Winter Star’ camellia and a clump of ‘Winter Red’ hollies. Damage was minimal, but the tragedy is that the entire tree was not uprooted, shattered into pieces to roll down the hill into a neat stack beside the firepit where I could be rid of it for good. Anything short of this is unsatisfactory. I’m forever spouting off that this or that is my favorite, but Golden Rain is my least favorite tree, without a doubt.
I’ve considered chopping the Golden Raintree out many times, usually when I’m on hands and knees plucking any of two hundred thousand seedlings that germinate annually. The only time of the year that the tree is worth a hoot is this week and next, when it’s flowering, but even then the blooms are a reminder that seed pods looking like miniature Japanese lanterns are next, full of round black seeds that end up sprouting in all parts of the garden.
A weather guy claimed the damage was done by a “mini derecho”, a reminder of the real thing last summer when numerous trees were beaten and battered, and my garden suffered considerably. The term “derecho” has been worn out by overuse, and just when I thought that it was dead and gone ….. here ‘s a miniature version. This storm was much less a problem in my garden, with the busted limb on the Golden Raintree the only damage I’ve seen so far.
Now, enough of this negativity. The blooms of the Golden Rain are nice for about a week, and then you are fortunate to forget about it for the remainder of the year. Japanese stewartia (Stewartia pseudocamellia, above) is flowering at the same time, and the only negative comment I have for it is that it took several years after planting before it decided to get growing.
Some tree are like that. Some get to growing the day they’re put in the ground, but the huge purple leafed European beech in the front sat still for eight years before it grew at all. I almost gave up on it, but then it started, and the next thing you know it’s thirty feet tall and sucking every ounce of moisture out of the surrounding few hundred square feet. This is only a negative if you’re looking to grow something, anything under the tree, but the tree is so magnificent that this tiny flaw is tolerable.
The stewartia has no such obvious flaws, and now it has grown into a fine small tree, though I’ve done it no favors by planting where a bit of effort is required to see its splendid, camellia-like white blooms. If I could somehow resort the garden to move this here and that there without regard to how large it’s grown, to place the best and most beautiful where they are most readily appreciated, the stewartia would be situated where every passerby could see its late spring blooms and superb autumn foliage colors (below).
This is nonsense, and of course I can’t move trees around like chess pieces, but if you have some open space where such a delightful tree can be planted you have my full recommendation to plant a stewartia. But, do not be fooled into planting a raintree.