This page is dedicated to plants that should be used more often in the landscape. Keep returning to see the new selections that should be used in your garden!
Family - Cornaceae
Native to Japan, Korea and China, this specimen is hardy to zone 5. It is a small, deciduous tree reaching about 30 feet tall, with the spread or width equaling its height. When looking for a small tree to add to your landscape, you want to take into consideration its appeal during all the seasons, and this tree is a winner. In late spring, the tree is massed with white flowers that can last up to four weeks. In the summer, the layered effect of the medium green leaves will serve as a perfect backdrop to the hot colored perennials that can be planted in front or besides it. Late August through October, the tree has raspberry red hanging fruit similar to large raspberries. Autumn brings a show, with the leaves turning a red to reddish purple, lasting about two weeks. As the leaves fall, its bark is revealed showing and exfoliating mix of gray-tan and mahogany brown color, which is a highlight of this plant. All too often we are too concerned with the size and brightness of the colors of flowers, when we should be looking at the appeal of the plant throughout the entire year.
Kousa dogwoods grow best in full sun to partial shade. The key to having a healthy, strong tree is to make sure that your soil is high in organic matter (which can be accomplished by adding peat moss or leaf compost) and slightly acidic. Kousa dogwoods stand up better than our native dogwood Cornus florida during drought conditions, and are more resistant to anthracnose (a deadly disease that has devastated our than our native dogwoods).
Some more notable cultivars and varieties of kousa dogwood are;
'Beni Fuji' - This form bears the deepest red-pink flowers of any C. kousa cultivar, even stronger than 'Satomi'.
'Elizabeth Lustgarten' and 'Lustgarten Weeping' - Notable for their weeping habits, this duo of cultivars grow to 15' with branches that arch downwards and bear white blooms. The habit is rounded and gentle, thus a mature specimen is attractive.
'Gold Star' - The center of each leaf has a broad gold band on this cultivar, with stems that are somewhat reddish. It is relatively slow-growing, but in time does form a small-medium rounded tree. The flowers are white, and the contrast between the red fruit and gold-splashed foliage can be striking.
'Little Beauty' - This plant forms a small, densely branched tree that may never exceed 15' tall.
'Milky Way' - One of the most common cultivars in the trade, this selection is probably composed of over a dozen similar clones. The plant is extremely floriferous and sets a very heavy crop of fruit. When in bloom, the pure white flowers can conceal the foliage.
'Satomi' (also listed as 'Rosabella')- This is a very popular cultivar said to develop bright pink flowers. In the United States, however, the warm summers seem to dull the color. As a result, most plants bloom light pink or white-pink. The color can vary from season to season, but 'Beni Fuji' probably has deeper pink bracts.
'Snowboy' - This form sports gray-green leaves that are edged in white, with occasional splashes of variegation throughout the foliage. While the plant is attractive when well grown, it is very slow-growing and is best sited in a shady location to avoid leaf scorch.
'Temple Jewel' - This is an interesting variegated form with leaves that show a light marbling of green, gold and light pink that turns mostly green with age. It grows well to 20' tall and wider with a dense habit. The flowers are white.
'Wolf Eyes' - This is a very popular variegated form with leaves that show a uniform white margin. The leaf margins are often prominently wavy, as well. The variegation pattern is quite stable and resistant to burning, though a shaded planting site is still desirable. In fall, the leaves develop attractive pink to red coloration. The plant is shrubby and slow-growing, to 10' tall and wide.
Hardy Rubber Tree
Habitat· native to central China · hardy to zone 5, and warmer parts of 4
Habit and Form · a large, deciduous tree · 40' to 60' tall · width is greater than height · rounded habit · medium growth rate · medium texture
Summer Foliage · alternate leaf arrangement · simple, deciduous leaves · 3" to 6" long · 1.5" to 3" wide · ovate leaf shape · serrate leaf margins · dark green leaf color · rough texture · rubbery substance when leaf is broken
Autumn Foliage· none, leaves fall green
Flowers · dioecious · no ornamental significance
Fruit · brown, capsule-like with appressed wings · looks like a large, plump, elm fruit · 1.5" long · notched apex · 1 seed
Bark · ridge and furrowed gray-brown bark · attractive · branches end in leaf
Culture · easily transplanted · soil tolerant · full sun · pH adaptable · somewhat urban tolerant
Landscape Use · shade tree · park tree · for high quality foliage · street tree
Liabilities · none serious
ID Features · imbricate, sessile buds · no terminal buds · ovate leaf shape with serrated leaf margin · waxy substance when leaf is broken
Propagation · by seed · by cuttings
Cultivars/Varieties · none
Although this tree may not seem to be something special or noteworthy, it is a great tree for areas that are not great for plants in the first place. The plant does produce rubber, but only a minor percentage and not worth production. It's leathery, shiny leaf is very attractive, and agaion can withstand the abuse of heavy street traffic. I had never known about this plant until this past May when my college Professor Richard Ray donated one to the Arboretum's Plant Auction, and I have been amazed that it is not more widely available on the market. As they say, seek and ye shall find and be rewarded with with an unusual, outstanding specimen tree.
Japanese Tree Lilac
Family - Oleaceae
I happened to stop by the Environmental Center the other day, which is my previous place of employment, to identify a tree that I had planted several years ago that no one could figure out. As I approached the tree it was just coming out of flower, had beautiful brown bark that looked like a cherry, and nice green leaves slightly darker that normal. Well, it was Syringa reticulate “Ivory Silk”, a cultivar of the Japanese Tree Lilac. I was so impressed with the appearance of the tree that I decided to make it the next highlighted plant on the web page.
The Japanese tree lilac is native to Northern Japan and is hardy in the United States to zone 3. I will warn those of you who live in the warmer climates that it does not do well in zones 8 or higher because it definitely likes the cooler weather. They classify this plant as a large shrub or small tree, which is the same classification as a dogwood. It has stiff, spreading branches and a nice rounded crown. Japanese tree lilacs grow only 20 to 30 feet tall and 15 to 25 feet wide, depending on the variety that is purchased (see below for a listing of cultivars). The growth rate is medium as well as the texture (appearance) of the plant. You can identify the tree lilac because of its simple, entire leaf that is oppositely arranged, and by its nice dark green leaf. Although the leaf has nice spring through summer color, the fall color is almost non-existent, quickly changing to yellow and falling in autumn.
The flowers have an off-white color, but are extremely fragrant. They are borne in panicles that almost a foot long and up to 10” wide, showy, and bloom in early June. The key is that this plant flowers profusely when established, so much so that it looks as though there are white clouds around the tree. You can leave the fruit capsules on the plant for winter interest, but I prefer to remove them after flowering so the plant does not spend that energy on seed production, but instead spends it on vegetative and root development.
As I stated earlier, the bark is very ornamental, resembling that of a cherry tree with its lenticels and glossy brown appearance. All too often we forget about winter interest from plants, but this tree will definitely have a nice appearance and interest in the winter.
Japanese tree lilacs prefer full sun and a well-drained, slightly acidic soil. It transplants easily from containers or Balled and Burlap. This plant is receiving notoriety lately as a street tree due to its ability to remain a manageable tree, dark green foliage, and profusion of flowers. It is somewhat resistant to mildew, scales and borers that normally affect regular lilacs. It can also be used for a specimen and group plantings. I prefer to use it as a small specimen tree in a location where size may be a limiting factor as to what you can or cannot plant. If you are adventurous, it can be propagated by cuttings or by seed, but if you start seeds, keep in mind the seedlings may vary from the parent stock.
Cultivars/Varieties'Chantilly Lace' - A form with variegated foliage, the leaves of this plant feature a pale creamy yellow perimeter. It will benefit from sitting out of direct afternoon sun and good irrigation during drought. 'Cameo Jewel' is a new variegated form with yellow-cream splashed foliage.
'Ivory Silk' - This selection forms a pleasant, rounded tree to 25' tall with stocky branch structure. It is very common in commerce and blooms heavily, even as a young plant. Pests do not bother the healthy, deep green leaves and the cherry-type bark is attractive all year.
'Summer Snow' - A more compact, rounded tree, this form reaches 20' tall with ample production of very large flower panicles. Its toughness and small size may make the plant a good street tree.
If space is a concern and you are looking for a flowering tree, give Japanese tree lilac a chance. I promise you won’t be disappointed!
Japanese Umbrella Pine, Umbrella Pine
Family - Pinaceae
I was researching what plant to list for this page, I came across the Umbrella Pine. We have a beautiful specimen at the Reeves-Reed Arboretum as well as at the James McFaul Environmental Center in Wyckoff for you to visit in person. This caught my eye because my thesis for my Nursery Management class was the start-to-finish of production of Umbrella Pine. Of course this is one of those plants that does not root well, even under mist and rooting hormone, and seed propagation is just as difficult. My thesis included propagation of several other quick rooting plants, such as weigelia, forsythia and yews to supplement my income until the Umbrella pine grew enough to be a saleable item, which was approximately 15 years later. I am warning you now, if you are looking for an inexpensive plant, this is not the one! It's difficulty to root and well as its slow growing habit make it a rather pricey purchase, but one I would suggest.
The Japanese umbrella pine is native to Japan and is hardy to zone 5, possibly 4 with protection. This plant really needs winter protection in colder zones, especially from sweeping winter winds that can do major winter damage to it. It is an evergreen conifer, staying a small to medium-sized tree. It is extremely dense and compact when young, which can be a detriment to heavy snowfalls which can break the branches, but also because it has an extremely interesting flaking bark which is reddish-brown in color. Its pyramidal habit make it choice for a medium sized specimen tree that grows to 25 to 40 feet tall and 15 to 20 feet wide.
The whorls of flattened needles around the stems give the look of an umbrella, hence the name. They are dark green and glossy, approximately 2 to 5 inches long. It does produce 2 to 4 inch cones, which are great for the natural decorator in all of us, especially for the holiday wreaths. It grows best in a rich, acidic soil, that is in full sun, but protected from winter winds. As I stated before, it is uncommon and very expensive to purchase, but once you have one on your property, you will admire it for years to come.
'Aurea', 'Ossorio Gold' and 'Ann Haddow' - Unusual for their golden yellow needles, these forms are very rare and prized by collectors.
'Jim Cross' - Named in honor of the late Long Island nurseryman, this unusual form grows slowly and densely to 10' tall after many years.
'Joe Kozey' - This Sidney Waxman introduction from the University of Connecticut maintains a columnar habit with healthy green needles.
'Pendula' - This enigmatic form is rarely offered, but is very unusual due to its weeping branches.
'Variegata' - The needles of this hard-to-find variation are colored green and yellow.
'Wintergreen' - Perhaps the finest form, this plant features a narrow conical habit and bright green foliage that does not discolor in winter. The plant grows slowly and often looks so pristine that one could mistake it for plastic. It was developed by Sidney Waxman of the University of Connecticut.
If you have the perfect spot and a few extra dollars to spend, this evergreen will become one of your favorites, guaranteed!
COLBY'S WISHING STAR
Syringa x 'Colby's Wishing Star'
For those of you who know my love of lilacs, know that I search for new and unusual varieties that I can add to my garden. A few years ago, I met a "gardening friend" at the Philadelphia Flower Show. His name is Frank Moro, owner of Select Plus Nursery, a lilac specialty nursery. After talking with him for a while, he told me of a very special lilac that that he was propagating. It was a dwarf, and only available at his nursery. Although he did not have any with him, I could order on-line and he would send me one of these "special" lilacs. I then found out why they were special. His son Colby was born with Down Syndrome, and it was the determination of Frank and his family to create a park for handicapped children with a portion of the proceeds from the sale of these lilacs. But I am getting ahead of myself. Let me give you a brief description of the lilac. This is a seedling offspring of Syringa x Josee. The flowers are a pinkish lilac color. It is a dwarf reaching only 3.5 to 4 feet in height. It is very fragrant and has recurrent bloom in the season as does Josee. The shrub is very compact and dense and naturally has a rounded shape. It is hardy from zones 3-9 USDA. What I like most about this lilac is that the new dwarf varieties fit into anyone's garden, and are tremendous when planted near a window or doorway. In spring, the fragrance is to me, what spring is all about.
From Frank Moro:
"Our plan at our new farm is to construct a special park for handicapped children all sales from this lilac will go exclusively to help the construction of the park which we will start this year in 2003. The park will be wheelchair accessible and will have a variety of games, and sensory experiences to learn about fragrances and textures. The park will be open to families with handicapped children only. We have realized in the last months how little there is for children with special needs. Select Plus will maintain this park at it's expense in the future and we hope to have something special that families in the immediate area and all around can come and see as well as our future world class lilac collection in the spring.
Anyone who purchases a Colby's Wishing Star will also get a special commemorative pin of the lilac mailed to them as well.
Seeing handicapped children in the past for us was something we could not have identified any idea what parent's must have gone through on a daily basis. Now we realize that these parents are super beings and their children heroes to have the strength and courage to meet daily challenges. Through the power of the web we have had lots of encouragement and have had the chance to learn about two special little twin girls that have Down's also named Brianna and Cassandra. Hopefully when the park is officially inaugurated they will be able with their parents to be present. We have had only great responses for the park and hope that the community and governments will help us with this special project.
Colby has been an inspiration to our family and we hope many of you will raise to a good cause that we feel will be one of the first parks in North America of this sort."
We continue to work as we can on a beautiful garden for people with their children to one day take advantage of and visit.
Just click on the link below to place your order for this worthwhile lilac, not only for your garden, but also for a park that will benefit many.