The Q&A Archives: planting tree

Question: I would like to purchase a small tree to plant on my side walk. I live on a very busy street. Tree can not be too wide. There are no overhead cable.


Answer: One of the most attractive trees for your purpose is Cercis canadensis, the Eastern Redbud. Especially the cultivar 'Forest Pansy'. It has a slow to moderate growth rate, reaching up to 20' without pruning. It has smooth, pale gray bark. The leaves are blue green, 2 to 3 1/2" wide and distinctly notched, or heart shaped at base and round or slightly notched at apex. Twigs and leaf edges reddish when young. Fall coloring is light yellow. This tree produces a brilliant display of magenta pea-like flowers, 1/2" long, in spring before the leaves. Fruits develop in summer. Newly formed seedpods, 1 1/2 to 3" long and 1/2 to 5/8" wide, are also magenta turning reddish brown and held through the winter.

Or, you might like Chionanthus retusus, the Chinese Fringe Tree. This is a graceful small tree, ith wslow to moderate growth to 20'. The bark is smooth grayish brown in youth, later furrowed. It has glossy green finely serrated obovate or elliptic leaves 2 to 4" long, which turn bright yellow in the fall.

Flowers form dramatic clusters on leafless or partially leafed out branches. Flowers are 1" long in 4 thread-like petals, but heavy flowering of lacy 4" clusters makes a striking show from April to July, resembling large white lilacs. Male and female flowers on separate trees, male blossoms slightly larger and more profuse. If trees of both sexes are close enough for pollination, female trees will produce clusters of small dark blue 1/2 to 1" berries by late summer.

Hope one of these trees is just right for your landscape.

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