Recommendation for small (5-7 ft) garden tree for zone 9 - Knowledgebase Question

San Francisco, CA
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Question by wstrick
November 10, 2005
I am looking for a small garden tree (or shrub that can be pruned as a tree) for zone 9 - (hot, dry summer, mild winter). I like Philadelphus mock orange tree, but may be too tempermental and is not designated for this zone.
thank you.

Answer from NGA
November 10, 2005
Here are a few suggestions:
Japanese maple (Acer palmatum) From beautifully sculpted branches to lacy, intricate leaves to stunning fall colors of both leaves and bark, this tree truly offers four season interest. There are many varieties, so it shouldn?t be too challenging to find one suited to your climate. Warm summers and mild winters are not a problem for this beauty, but it is essential to provide good drainage and protection from the wind. Try A. palmatum ?Dissectum?, with pale green leaves, ?Atropurpureum? with purplish or bronze leaves or ?Nigrum? with darker blackish purple leaves.

The eastern redbud (Cercis canadensis), native to the eastern U.S., is a flowering tree with shiny, heart-shaped leaves and small, lavender pink flowers in spring. ?Forest Pansy? is a good choice, preferring well-drained soil and lots of sun. With deep burgundy-wine colored leaves throughout the season and a shiny black bark, this tree will be a striking addition to your garden.

Many evergreen trees make for wonderful patio trees. The dwarf Alberta spruce (Picea glauca ?Albertiana Conica?), indigenous to the Canadian Rockies, is slow-growing to 3-6 feet and forms a neat, pyramidal shape. Pinus mugo or Mugo pine is one of the best known of the smaller pines. It is shrubby and symmetrical and prefers a cool, wet climate. The umbrella pine (Sciadopitys verticillata) is an unusual conifer from Japan. Its name comes from the arrangement of its leaves which resemble the spokes of an umbrella. This pine grows very slowly in a pyramid shape and can tolerate both cold and heat.

The star magnolia (Magnolia stellata) has gray stems on which furry, gray flower buds emerge in the winter. Spring turns these fuzzy bumps into lovely, flat star-shaped flowers with a slight lemony fragrance. This is another very slow-growing tree, reaching only about 6 feet in 10 years.

Hope these suggestions help you choose just the right tree.

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