Trees are easy. I could not be without them, though arguably there could be a few too many in this garden. My wife remarks that our views are obstructed, but we sit low between rather tall hills, so there is not much view to spoil, I think.
There are a few dozen Japanese maples in the garden, but also dogwoods, redbuds, two magnificent beeches, handfuls of magnolias, a katsura, and more. Many of the trees are now into their third decade, so where there was once sunny lawn is now delightfully shaded garden. This number of trees limits views within the garden, but rather than shrinking the space, visitors remark that the garden must be larger than its acre and a quarter. Of course, this is an unintended benefit.
I did not mention crape myrtles, of which there are a handful. I cannot treasure these as I do a redbud, dogwood, and certainly not as much as even the least favored Japanese maple. But, two dark leafed crape myrtles planted last autumn are gaining favor, growing quickly in the damp lower garden that demands the mass of a tree that is not overly broad in its spread. The summer flowers are a bonus, and I value any tree that survives the dampness.
While evergreen, the leaves of gordlinia (xGordlinia grandiflora, above) are a horrid sight by midwinter, even when the season is mild with few severe lows. Then, browned foliage is not easily stripped, so the unsightly leaves remain until spring’s growth pushes them away.
Gordlinia is a hybrid between Franklinia and gordonia, and more similar in appearance to a large, shrubby Franklinia. The multi trunked gordlinia was planted as a second choice when a tree of acceptable size could not be found to replace a prized Franklinia (above) that perished in the damp lower garden. The gordlinia was placed in drier ground to assure its survival. Its abundant, yellow centered, white blooms in midsummer are nearly identical to Franklinia’s, and the autumn coloring of the evergreen foliage is quite attractive. So, gordlinia’s attributes outweigh the minus of several months of browned leaves.
A variegated sport of ‘Rising Sun’ rebud (Cercis canadensis ‘Rising Sun’, above) is thriving after a late autumn planting a year ago. The foliage and variegation are slightly faded (below) from when I discovered the tree in a field of ‘Rising Sun’ in the North Carolina mountains, but that will come as the tree settles in. Certainly, this redbud will not be the equal of ‘Rising Sun’ or other colorful recent introductions, but it is one-of-a-kind and a reminder of a valued business relationship that I will fondly recall long after I retire.