There is some slight disadvantage to planting abundant quantities of trees in a space that should more properly contain half the number. Flowers of the Bigleaf magnolia (Magnolia macrophylla) are barely seen as lower branches have been shaded, and the green and white variegated leaf Chinese dogwood ‘Samaritan’ (Cornus kousa ‘Samaritan’) flowers sparsely, too shaded by a tree lilac (Syringa reticulata ‘Ivory Silk’) and an equally tall stewartia (Stewartia pseudocamellia, below).
Flowering of the stewartia is not reduced by shading, not even on lower branches that are shaded by a wide spreading Fernleaf Japanese maple (Acer japonicum ‘Aconitifolium’), though the full view of the tree in flower is obstructed. The flowers of stewartia (and eight weeks later, Gordlinia) are camellia-like, and abundant, with the added benefit that branches that extend into sunlight flower two weeks earlier than ones that are shaded. Blooms fall to the ground intact, which is slightly interesting until the flowers darken and create a bit of a mess on stone pathways.
Again this year, there are mixed results with mophead and lacecap hydrangeas (Hydrangea macrophylla). Stem dieback following recent winters seems guaranteed on most mopheads, except ‘Dear Dolores’, perhaps sheltered by proximity to the house, and the purple flowered ‘Bloomstruck’ (above) that is planted in the worst circumstance (perpetually damp soil) but muddles through with excellent foliage and flowers.
Oakleaf (H. quercifolia, above) and panicled (H. paniculata) hydrangeas do not suffer this winter injury, and again the oakleafs have thrived with increased rainfall this spring. Leaves are half again larger than usual, and flowering has been exceptional. And again, branches must be pruned or smaller neighbors will be lost beneath the wide spreading, large leafed canopy.
Finally, all three Voodoo lilies (Amorphophallus konjac, above) have been located, with growth ranging from full leaf to barely breaking ground. Flowers were short lived just after planting and I forgot where all were planted, which is not unusual, and particularly for a plant that disappears for much of the spring. One is in conflict with a very vigorous clump of toad lily (Tricyrtis), but I believe the two will work it out without my intervention.