Archive for fall color – Page 2

Diversity of Dogwoods Part I

Cornus Kousa 'Satomi' at Joy Creek Nursery.

Cornus Kousa ‘Satomi‘ at Joy Creek Nursery.

Diversity of Dogwoods – Part I

Dogwoods are a very large family.  There are twiggy shrub dogwoods whose hot colored stems light up the winter landscape.  There is a dogwood who blooms in March with yellow flowers and makes an edible fruit.  There are semi evergreen dogwoods we are experimenting with here in Portland.  This is the kind of knowledge homeowners need their designers to be up to date on.  When a client asks me for a dogwood I know its the visual and emotional impact of the flowers they are thinking of.  Designers think through the details to find the right variety for the clients size of yard and environment so our clients don’t have to.  Landscapes come in all different sizes and environments and now so do Dogwoods.

Plant designers have been busy improving our old-fashioned dogwood tree into a garden designers dream tree. Our old dogwood varieties have problems that plant designers have been working on for 40 years.

Cornus-Kousa 'Satomi' Intense pink flowers. Photo by Randall C. Smith, courtesy of Great Plant Picks

Cornus Kousa ‘Satomi’  Intense pink flowers.  New on the scene, ‘Little Ruby’  is a deeper pink. Photo by Randall C. Smith, courtesy of Great Plant Picks

They are improving drought tolerance, disease resistance (okay not sexy but important!)  and cold hardiness.  They’ve created new shapes that fit better into the urban environment.

What is sexy or desirable are the improvements made to the flowers.  Let’s admit it, where dogwoods are concerned,  we want even pinker flowers.   Everyone wants more color than nature supplies on her own. There are darker shades of more intense pink red.

Cornus Kousa 'Venus' has large dogwood flowers

Cornus Kousa ‘Venus’ has large white flowers which are 6 to 7 inches across.

Spring Flowers

Varieties such as ‘Little Ruby’  showcase the new strong colors.   ‘Little Ruby’ is wider than tall.  She is  plump and round headed and can be used in the landscape as a shrub or small tree.

Another new variety is called ‘Starlight’.  This cross is from our own native Pacific Northwest Dogwood;  the shape is upright and more narrow.  It works for your small yard or as a street tree. There’s a beautiful ‘Starlight’ in the courtyard of the Edith Green federal building in downtown Portland as an example of a tree perfect for urban life.

Cornus Kousa 'Starlight' dogwood

‘Starlight’ dogwood is a cross from our Pacific Northwest native dogwood. The narrow shape is perfect for urban life. Picture from Pat Breen Oregon State University.

 

‘Venus’ features ginormus white flowers which are 6″-7″ across.  Like ‘Starlight’ they produce little to no  fruit unlike the many Korean dogwoods hybridized and sold in the last 15 years.  In fact even Friends of Trees offer messy Korean dogwoods.  I confess I make a TSKK TSKK when I see the huge mess they make on the sidewalks. In the fall they drop a large raspberry colored fruit.  Friends of Trees is a fabulous organization and many clients have been happy to purchase an inexpensive tree and learn how to care for their tree.  I would use the fruitless varieties near walkways and for small yards and save the old fashioned fruiting types for large properties.

‘Hedgerow’s Gold’ brightening up a shady area with Japanese Forest Grass as a ground cover to nicely echo the color.

Bright Summer Foliage

‘Hedgerows Gold’ grown for its gorgeous variegated foliage. This is a very easy shrub to grow, once it is established it can take some benign neglect. Grow it for the foliage first, but the fun fall color and exciting winter twigs makes it a four season plant.

Fall Color

Yellow Fall Color on this Dogwood looks especially bright with the evergreen background.

Many Dogwoods also sport great fall color. The fall color is primarily in sunset shades, reds and yellows, and looks especially fantastic with an evergreen backdrop. On some varieties the color of the leaves turning is only enhanced by the unique twig colors – clear yellow leaves with bright red stems. Beautiful!

Photo courtesy of Pat Breen Oregon State University

Winter Twigs

Some types of dogwoods are known primarily for their winter twig color – most often called Red Twig Dogwoods or Yellow Twig Dogwoods. ‘Midwinter Fire’ is a popular cultivar, but there are a wide variety to choose from.

Small Trees for Fall Color

What trees are small enough to mature in the typical yard space, have low water needs and have full season beauty?

Acer Circinatum "Pacific Fire" photo from Handy Nursery

Acer circinatum ‘Pacific Fire’ photo from Handy Nursery

Our Native Vine Maple is Tried and True

Select a new variety of native vine maple, Acer circinatum, like Pacific Fire with scarlet red winter twigs.  It is attractive in partial shade to dappled sun but the best effects of color, both twig and fall leaf color occur in half day sun.  It can be grown in full sun but this will probably spoil the foliage with leaf scorch.  Plant it in morning sun with dappled afternoon shade for best results.  Matures at 15′ to 20′.

Seven Sons Flower is Great for a Tough Spot

Seven Son Heptocodium photo courtesy of Treephoria

Heptacodium miconioides ‘Seven Sons’ photo courtesy of Treephoria.com

Here’s a tree for a hell strip! Seven Sons Flower, or Heptacodium miconioides, is great for full sun and less than great soil.  You can buy it as a standard, or single trunk tree, which will fit in your parking strip nicely. Or buy the low multi-branched form (pictured) for placement in the landscape.  It flowers in late summer and holds the color of the flower into late fall so you don’t miss out on fall color either even it if isn’t the leaves that glow red; 20′ at maturity.

Use Phoenix Snake Bark Maple for Something New

Acer Conspcium Phoenix photo courtesy of Treephoria

Acer conspicuum ‘Phoenix’ photo courtesy of  Treephoria.com

Here is the newest darling tree Acer conspicuum ‘Phoenix’, or Snake Bark Maple.  It needs regular watering, less after a few years have gone by but is not drought tolerant.  Amazing twig color and the bark’s dramatic color show just gets better and better as the tree matures.  Like all maples, plant up on a mound if you have heavy clay soil.  Good drainage is the key to longevity.

Use Crape Myrtle for Four-Season Interest

Crepe Myrtle - photo taken at J Stone Garden

Crape Myrtle – Focus here is on bark color.  Photo taken at J Stone Garden

My favorite Crape Myrtle, or Lagerstromia, is ‘Tuskegee’, maturing at 15′.  These trees need to be planted in well drained soil or up on a mound.  Don’t plant this tree with an east wind exposure.  Best in full sun or 3/4 day sun.  Winter bark, wow fall color, hot red orange summer flowers, with low summer water needs. Another great variety that is easier to find is Tuscarora, or Lagerstroemia indica x fauriei ‘Tuscarora’.

Crape Myrtle in NE Portland Landscape Design

This Crape Myrtle putting on an early Fall show in a NE Portland front yard.

Garden Tip: Plant Your Trees in the Fall

Before we forget how hot it was this summer and how precious shade was, let’s talk trees. Is it time to consider planting trees for shade or privacy? I love to plant trees, especially if I am starting out with a bigger specimen……….in the fall.

If you are looking to prioritize what plants to buy first in your design, consider planting one large specimen tree. A big sized tree planted first will make a big impact.  Protect your investment by planting in the fall when winters cooler temperatures and rains will establish the roots.  Have a professional  plant it.  The root ball of this tree at time of planting easily weighed 500 lbs.

Privacy landscape design in Woodstock neighborhood for side yardBig Tree Planted in Woodstock Neighborhood

Paul and Leah live in the Woodstock neighborhood of Portland, Oregon.  They hired Design in a Day 5 years ago. (2007)  We planted a 6″ caliper shade tree. (6 inches through the trunk at 4 inches above the ground).  We selected a big tree so we would have shade on the deck sooner rather than later for their growing family to enjoy.

Japanese Elm Zelkova serratta ‘Wireless’

One of my favorite shade trees is a Japanese elm tree- Zelkova serratta ‘Wireless’.  It’s called “Wireless” because it grows very wide (36′) but it fits under secondary power lines at 24 feet tall.  Because it has strong wood, it is the perfect shade tree for near the house because it’s less likely to suffer broken limbs that might damage your roof. It’s also a popular street tree for extra wide parking strips.

‘Wireless’ also has great fall color, early leaf drop and is a low water needs tree.  The leaf canopy is thick enough for shade but allows dappled sun through for the lawn.  What more could we ask for?

Other trees we selected were Carpinus betulus ‘Franz Fontaine’ (a columnar “skinny” hornbeam) and semi dwarf Magnolia Grandiflora ‘Little Gem’.  These trees were purchased at typical homeowner DIY sizes, 1.5 inch caliper and maybe 8′ tall for the hornbeam and a ten gallon pot for the evergreen magnolia which was about 5′ tall.

Big Tree Helps Re-sale

Paul and Leah sold their home two years later.  The internet sales photos showed a backyard ready for fun and a small  significant shade tree for their south facing deck.

I drove by this landscape 9 years later and took photos.  Check it out.

See these trees 9 years later.