Of all the treasures seen on a too quick run through the Chicago Botanic Garden, a Seven Son tree (Heptacodium micioniodes) caught my eye, reminding me of the tree lost in a storm several years ago. I’ve thought many times about planting another, but never found the right tree. In a well established garden, a tiny tree just won’t work, and after the Seven Son was replaced with a Red Horse Chestnut (Aesculus × carnea) a bit of reconfiguring would be necessary to fit it in. I don’t regret planting the horse chestnut, and I was nearly over the disappointment of losing the Seven Son, until yesterday.
The vigorous growth and multiple trunks of the Seven Son gave me confidence, when the tree was snapped at the ground in a downburst that toppled many area trees in its path, that it would grow back from the roots. Surprisingly, it didn’t, and today, seeing one with calyces in full color, reminds me that changes can come quickly in the garden.
A few days ago, winds in a brief storm brought down several substantial limbs from tulip poplars and swamp maples that border the garden. This isn’t unusual with trees in the forest, and only once was I out in the garden to witness what was nearly a hydrangea crushing accident (that could also have been bone crushing). This is a part of the garden to avoid when the wind is blowing, better to come back later to clean up the debris, but not before scanning the tree canopy for dangling limbs.
With a few trees and large parts of others falling, the degree of sunlight in this deeply shaded part of the garden changes regularly, mostly very slightly, but the loss of a larger tree opens a significant window to the sun. A few plants suffer with a bit more sunlight, but fortunately, the slight increase has mostly been beneficial. Oakleaf hydrangeas doubled the number of blooms, and spring flowering camellias are again loaded with buds.