It is prime time for tree planting, and perhaps you have a yen and the space to add one to your landscape. And while shade trees may be king of the forest, smaller trees are often best suited for smaller yards or showy spots on the landscape. Here are five flowering beauties that thrive in the Piedmont.
Natchez crape myrtle
This outstanding crape myrtle produces white flowers for months through the summer. Over the past decade, it has been widely planted in lawns and along streets and is the choicest of the crape myrtles. Besides the long show of white blooms, its ornamental value includes beautiful peeling bark that reveals tones of cinnamon brown to pale cream, as well as yellow to dark red fall foliage. A graceful look comes from training the tree into an upright, fountain shape.
Like a frothy cloud, the broadly spreading canopy of Yoshino cherry blooms in early spring. Against a green lawn, the effect is magnificent as the buds open palest pink, then turn white. This happens before the new leaves emerge, so the effect is entirely flowers. Give this tree space, possibly 20 feet or more, to extend its horizontal canopy like a blooming umbrella. The fall foliage is yellow to bronze. The most famous Yoshino cherries, some a century old, are in Washington, D.C.
Forest Pansy redbud
This redbud has foliage that emerges scarlet-purple, maturing to a softer maroon, which really stands out in the green landscape of spring and summer. The flowers are a brighter form of the typical redbud reddish-pink, emerging on bare branches in early spring. A second choice among the named varieties is Oklahoma, whose new leaves have a pink tint before turning deep green.
Deep freezes in March sometimes wreck the blooms of this deciduous magnolia. But most of the time, the show will stop traffic. As the upright tulip-shaped buds open pink, purple, red or white before the leaves come out, the effect is spectacular. It grows slowly. Left well-branched to the ground, it makes a beautiful screen once the foliage comes out, and it possesses an interesting silhouette through the winter while the leaves are gone.
A small gem and a native tree as well, the Carolina silverbell grows slowly and is well-suited for placement in a large flowerbed or among a border of short shrubs. It blooms with the dogwoods in April, bearing white, bell-shaped flowers on graceful horizontal branches. The blooms are the trees greatest asset, but the oval leaves that turn yellow in autumn are also pleasant to look at.
Info on how to plant
Young flowering trees can usually be found for around $25 to $100, depending on the size. It is best to start with small ones that are easier to transport and plant.
At planting time, dig the hole slightly deeper than the depth of the trees root ball. Dig the holes diameter at least twice as wide as the diameter of the root ball. This will loosen the soil and allow the roots to spread horizontally.
Set the root ball so that the top is nearly level with the surrounding ground. Water to settle the soil, then recheck the depth. Root-stimulating fertilizer applied at planting time will encourage root development through the winter.