Monday, June 04, 2007

More, recent aquisitions, trees and shrubs

I enjoyed seeing a small tree (really actually a small shrub about 3' tall) covered with white flowers on my dog walks through a neighboring townhouse complex. I found out the tree was a fringe tree, Chionanthus virginicus, the American fringe tree or old man's beard. I actually wanted the C. retusus or Chinese fringe tree with flowers that stand above the new foliage giving it an almost completely white look but the mailorder nursery I bought the tree from was out of the C. retusus and I had to settle for the C. virginicus. I was amazed when the small tree arrived. It already had flowers. The flowers were past bloom but I was pleased that we would probably already have more flowers next year despite the diminutive size of the tree.

We bought two more Winter Hazels, Corylopsis pauciflora and C. sinensis (two shrubs on the left of the photo and Styrax obassia on the right) to join the C. spicata we already have. The yellow drooping flowers of the C. spicata were so eye-catching this spring we thought we'd try some other varieties. C. sinensis is purported to be the most ornamental of the species.

Corylopis pauciflora in better days. The plant has since died. One day it was doing well and the next it was drying up and dead within two days. I always kept the soil moist so I don't know what killed it. Supposedly it had clearer yellow flowers that open wider than either the C. spicata or C. sinensis. And, despite the name meaning few flowers, it is as ornamental with the flowers spread further apart than the others. Unfortunately we won't get to see it bloom.

Styrax obassia, Fragrant snowbell. We have a Styrax japonicus, Japanese snowbell or snowdrop tree which I really like, mainly for it's numerous flowers in late spring but also the ornamental hanging drupes which bear the seed. I was walking through the Princeton U. campus and happened to see the head gardener near a small tree with attractive pendant flowers and large heart-shaped leaves so I asked her the name of the tree - Styrax obassia. The leaves are not really heart-shaped but sort of round with a water shedding tip. I thought the tree was a striking specimen so I bought a very tiny one by mailorder. I will probably take several years for it to bloom.

And, Cornus controversa 'Variegata', table dogwood or giant dogwood. I've seen photos of this tree in catalogs for many years and wanted to buy one but they were always very expensive. But, Heronswood Nursery sent me an email, advertising the tree for only $27.95 so I pounced on the deal and bought two. I love the layered look of the tree and the variegations in the leaves only make it more attractive in my mind. The trees arrived wilted so I left them in pots under a shady tree for a week to recover from the shipping and they perked up a bit. I built a temporary diffuser over the plant after planting so it would not get hot overhead sun but I don't know how long I should keep it tented.

Apparently this tree is much esteemed in Europe but not planted much in the U.S. I wonder why? The Brits call it the Wedding Cake dogwood because of its layered look. Click on the Heronswood link to see a beautiful full sized specimen. Or, here's another photo from the Great Plant Picks site.


Blogger Anthony said...

The varigated dogwood looks fantastic. I think I may have to follow that link and do some pouncing of my own. :)

8:34 AM  
Blogger Ki said...

Hi Anthony, pounce away! ;) Just be aware that the trees are small, probably not over a foot tall and are in 4x4" pots, measured at the widest part of the opening. It looks like it may be a fast grower though.

9:27 AM  
Blogger Entangled said...

I'm also admiring the dogwood, and thinking about where I could put one. It looks like those variegated leaves would scorch with too much sun?

I was going to write that I had killed a Styrax, but now remember that it was a Halesia - a relative. The soil was just too dry in my northern Virginia woods, again. I may try again in the moister woods of central Virginia.

5:34 AM  
Blogger Ki said...

Hi entangled,
I was a little concerned that the leaves would scorch too so I put some gauzy garden cloth over the trees. Funny though, one dropped almost all its leaves but new leaves are budding out so I removed the sunshade on that tree. The other one remains happy with the shade and has retained all its leaves. Strange. I hope they survive as I think they'll be an outstanding tree in the garden.

I've admired Halesia. I think they sold it as Carolina snowbell or silverbell at a nursery here so I would think you should have no trouble growing it in Virginia. We didn't buy it because the trees were much larger than the S. japonicus with a much larger price tag to match. :(

The hot overhead sun was too much for the S. Obassia and many of the leaves were burnt. I tented that tree too but have since removed the tenting since new growth has appeared. Fun in the sun.

6:10 AM  
Blogger DeeMom said...

Now go figure this, I just in the past month saw my first Frige Bush/Tree. Quite stunning to be sure. Now to figure where I might put one. I am in no hurry so time to speculate is always a good thing.

11:40 AM  
Blogger Ki said...

Hi deemom,
Since you are in no hurry to buy one, check out the Chinese fringe tree too. It was my first choice but it was sold out. The flowers are more prominent on the C. retusus because they are carried above the new leaves.

I'm the buy first, find the room later type of person. ;) I show no restraint and the yard reflects this madness. Thanks for the comment.

6:07 PM  
Blogger Gotta Garden said...

Well, of course, that's why I like you!! Lol! Who can have restraint with all these delights around??

What great finds! My little fringe tree is not very showy...I bet I don't have the Chinese one...I keep thinking when it gets bigger, it will do more. I will have to dig out the tag.

Princeton! My son was there last summer for a seminar or something before grad school. He just loved it! Now, why didn't he mention the trees to me, I ask you??! All I heard about was the famous mathematicians he met! Lol!

Ki, your blog is so interesting! I just know I am going to come over here and learn something, see something wild.

Btw, I have a new dead (baby possum...forgive my spelling) from the cats, but I don't think most folks would appreciate seeing, I'm actually showing restraint! If I can't do it with plants, I may as well practice in some other area!

Take care, Ki.

8:21 AM  
Blogger Ki said...

Hi Gotta G.,
I was all excited when the woman at Nicholls Gardens said she thought they had a very small C. retusus. Chinese fringe tree... but, she would check and get back to me. Well, apparently it was sold or in bad shape so she sent me the C. virginicus instead. :( But it looks like a very nice specimen albeit quite small and seems very happy where we planted it.

Princeton has a nice campus with a lot of interesting trees. Terrible food in town but interesting trees. We don't have very much wild or open spaces anymore where we live but we seem to have more wildlife. When I was walking the dog the other day, I heard a bark and when I turned to see if a dog was loose, I saw a fox running the other way. It stopped at the top of the cache basin and stared at me for a long time before going into the bushes. I saw another one killed on the road a block from our house and some animal has been pooping on our front mat and entryway where we leave some dry cat food for a stray. I guess the fox eats the food too and leaves its scat to mark its territory?

I don't think my dead mouse scans were well received either.

Thanks for stopping by.

9:48 AM  

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