In this garden

The stewartia’s (Stewartia pseudocamellia, below) flowers do not open all at once, but over a two week period, though I make this claim for the tree in this garden only. With a large section of this garden shaded (with the large stewartia partially to blame), flowers here appear later than in nearby gardens. Careful placement at sunnier edges ensures no fewer blooms than trees in full sun, with few exceptions. (A variegated Chinese dogwood, ‘Samaritan’ flowers only on uppermost branches that peek into the sun.) The stewartia flowers from its sunny top to its shaded lower branches.

A Sweetbay magnolia (Magnolia virginiana) shaded by the immense Bigleaf magnolia (M. macrophylla) grows vigorously and very upright, but with few flowers, while another in afternoon sun flowers prolifically (below). In the sunnier location with its preferred damper soil, the sweetbay also grows wider, so while the sweetbay tolerates shade, it is best suited to part sun. The shaded tree is in dry ground, so it is clear that sweetbay magnolia will flourish in a range of conditions, but flowering is diminished as shade increases. Selections that are more evergreen are suggested since leaves that stay through the winter rarely look ragged.

As one can plainly see, plants do not grow or flower along strict schedules, with a multitude of varying conditions lending their influence. Substantial branches of the Goldenrain tree (Koelreuteria paniculata, below) regularly litter the ground, perhaps a consequence of weakening due to shade from our neighbor’s willow oak. Flowering is never an issue, but this results in the larger problem that the multitude of seedlings must be weeded out. How they are spread so far, I don’t know. Otherwise, this is a fine tree for a lawn area where seedlings should not be a problem. Unfortunately, in this garden it has long been a nuisance.

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