Expectations are not always met

Despite considerable optimism with a good start a year ago, two young trees have made disappointing progress this spring. The Wheel tree (Trochodendron aralioides) and Korean Sweetheart tree (Euscaphis japonica, below) both suffered minor injury in late freezes, and I am hopeful this setback is temporary. The Sweetheart tree grew considerably in the second half of last year, so there’s hope, but I suspect the Wheel tree is finished growing for the year. It is healthy, but I expected (wished for) more than a few inches of growth.

My patience is often tested by new plantings, particularly when planting tiny trees. While I read that small trees quickly catch up and are a better value than beginning with more substantial plantings, I find the opposite to be true. Three recently planted trees, a variegated redbud, a ‘Yellowbird’ magnolia, and an ‘Oshio beni’ Japanese maple, all nearly ten feet in height, have leafed fully and weathered a period of spring drought with minimal care. The magnolia was damaged by the freezes but rebounded quickly.

A small Siebold magnolia (Magnolia sieboldii) planted early in spring will take years to grow to match the ‘Yellowbird’, and with the considerable expense of buying through mail order the price was not so different. Still, I could not obtain the Siebold magnolia, or the Wheel or Korean Sweetheart trees from garden center sources, so I do not complain.

Plants overwintered in the greenhouse and the basement have rebounded splendidly from their hibernation, though two elephant ears are slower recovering than usual. Of course, it is my care that is to blame, with a bare minimum of attention (and water) provided.

Greenhouse grown hyacinth bean and blackberry lily (Iris domestica, aka Belamcanda, above) seedlings have been recently moved into the garden. The non-hardy hyacinth beans will flower in summer, and this is my first try with blackberry lilies grown from seed, but I’m told with an early start they can join others in the garden to flower by midsummer.

Seeds will be harvested from both again in autumn. I look forward to increasing the number of blackberry lilies each year, and of course I was able to share several pots with each of our sons. The seedlings remain quite small despite their start in late winter, but I expect only that these will survive and provide a delightful display a year from now. Flowers sooner will be a bonus.

One Comment Add yours

  1. Hi Dave: I had mentioned before that I was looking for the Korean Sweetheart Tree after you wrote about it and after seeing a beautiful mature specimen at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens. I was able to source two from a nursery in NJ! It was a tortuous journey to get to me. They don’t ship out of state so they delivered to a family member 45 minutes away in NJ who after trying a number of places finally got a UPS store to package and deliver them to me in VA. They are about 4.5 -5 feet and have put out lots of branches and leaves. Sadly wrapped right now due to cicadas but hope that won’t damage them.

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