Trees With Beautiful Blooms
Flowering trees are an effortless way of annually acquiring a great number of blossoms to enjoy, either as they grow outdoors, or in indoor bouquets. Many are lovely for several weeks. Here are some of the lower-growing kinds that will thrive almost anywhere in a tangle or a planned array.
Grow a dogwood for its beautiful pink or white blooms, brilliant red autumn berries, and rich mahogany foliage. A dogwood grows fast and, if five or six feet tall to start, may well bloom the year after transplanting.
The Sargent cherry flowers in late April; the blooms appear ahead of the bronzy young foliage, and seem literally to hide the branches and trunk. No wonder the Japanese have festivals at cherry blossom time! For more, visit gardening info.
A flowering crab apple is a brilliant bouquet for weeks in the spring. One of the hardiest is Bechtel’s crab.
The delicate blossoms of the shadbush or shadblow (amelan-chier) unfold against the gray twigs as an early announcement of spring. This tree is tough and hardy, irregularly shaped, and thrives when crowded in with others along a wall or where you will. The redbud (cercis) scatters its pink lavender flowers among the dogwood blooms. The North Carolina mountains are host to sweeps of both these trees. In cultivation, redbud thrives as far north as Connecticut.
You’ll not only appreciate the light airy shade of the locust but also, in June, the fragrant white wisteria-like flowers. Because the locust is a legume it feeds nitrogen to the soil, helping the grass beneath to grow green and lush. The silver-bell is acasual tree, unsymmetrical in shape, sturdy and quick growing. Snowy bell-shaped flowers festoon it in such profusion in May that strangers often stop to admire. The unusual fruits are like two ovals of brown paper intersecting at right angles. Could have come from kindergarten!
The fringe tree, carefree in shape, produces tumbled masses of showy white flowers in May and June. These fragrant drooping clusters may be readily picked from the lower branches.
The shrubby vernal witch hazel (Hamamelis vernalis) is the spring-flowering relative of the small-tree-size common witch hazel (H. virginiana) which flowers in late autumn. The latter’s blossoms appear suddenly, overnight, with no warning at all. Tiny yellow streamers star the cold gray branches while, nearby, the last leaves of fall drift down.
The paulownia is named for princess Anna Paulownia of the Netherlands. Originally imported from China and Japan, this tree spread through the South, especially Virginia and North Carolina. It grows fast, bears flowers when six to eight feet tall, and thrives as far north as southern New England. In May pyramidal clusters of lavender flowers dramatically dominate the tree.
Certain trees are special for one reason or another: black birch because the bark is delightfully chewable with a grand tangy flavor; sassafras because of the delicious twigs and the mitten-shaped leaves and their golden autumn hue; weeping willow because just when you think spring is never really coming, the willows turn their long branches gold, and then chartreuse, and all at once the first peepers are singing in the marshes, and spring has kept its promise after all.
For its smooth contoured trunk and oddly twisting branches, the hornbeam is a must. And the silver poplar is your hurry-up weather vane. You see the leaves blowing silver in the sun against a black thunderhead sky just before the first large drops of a summer rain.
Even when dead, trees are often quite beautiful, lending a sense of design where they stand.
We have one wonderful gray and ancient ghost along the stone wall. Part of it is host to a trailing and fragrant wistaria. In summer the stark branches are a fine contrast to their leafy surroundings. Here the pileated woodpecker occasionally settles, and in March a Carolina wren perches on the topmost twig, her little brown body vibrating as she pours out her sonnet to spring.
Did you ever stand with your back against a tall tree’s slim straight trunk when the wind was blowing? The rhythm of the breeze bends the tree top, then its own vitality draws it back. As you lean against it you feel this and become one with these two forces—the force that sways and the force that holds.