I can’t help myself. I’m traveling through the mountains of North Carolina, shopping for evergreens and trees for the nurseries (my day job), but always with an eye watching for something, anything of interest to add to the garden. Without question, there is no room for another tree, but here’s one I must have.
This is a redbud in a large planting of yellow leafed ‘Rising Sun’ redbuds (Cercis canadensis ‘Rising Sun’, above), a marvelous tree, and a splendid addition to any garden, though not one that I would clear a space in the garden for. After thirty years of planting there is little open ground, and certainly not for a tree, even a small tree. I must be very discriminating about additions, particularly larger ones, so clearing a space means something, or things, must go, and this is done rarely and reluctantly.
But, the tree that’s caught my attention is an oddball in this field of yellow (above). Yes, there are yellow leaves, but they are green splashed with yellow (below). Some are half and half, yellow and green, and I’m intrigued that this could slip into this planting of yellow leafed clones. Older leaves have faded to green, but the new growth is unique.
Trees such as ‘Rising Sun’ are propagated by cuttings (rooted or grafted), so that all are genetically identical. Except this one, that grows with more vigor (with more green chlorophyll) and with different foliage coloring. Though not necessarily an improvement, and how could it possibly improve on ‘Rising Sun’, how could I resist a tree that is one of a kind? Which, I assume it is. I can only guess how this tree came to be, but most likely it is a sport (a mutation) from ‘Rising Sun’. On occasion, mutations are temporary, quickly reverting, but this tree has not in two years. The grower noticed only the unusually vigorous growth, but I saw the varied leaf coloring.
After several minutes discussion, the deal was done, and sometime later in autumn the tree will be planted in my garden. I think I’ve got the perfect spot. A few unfortunate lesser desirables will be lost, but this will showcase this new found treasure, that is not likely to be of value to anyone but me.
Already, I’ve ordered a few spider azaleas (Rhododendron stenopetalum ‘Linearifolium’) for this area that has become a collection of native and deciduous azaleas (above), though the center of the planting area is a bit sunny in late afternoon. Azaleas have not been a particular favorite, but I notice my affection for the brightly colored, fragrant, late blooming deciduous types has increased in recent years. The new redbud should provide just enough shade, but not too much, to allow this collection to grow. Of course, the center of attention will be this splendid, one-of-a-kind redbud.