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Dogwoods and Redbuds: Two Favorites

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Eastern Redbud

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Flowering Dogwood

Little introduction is needed for two common trees that are found in our Appalachian region. Anyone who lives here can’t help but to notice the spectacular displays of the flowering dogwood, Cornus florida, and the eastern redbud, Cercis canadensis. These species of trees are native and are also commonly planted. In order to maintain genetic diversity, it is best to stick with straight species of plants when re-naturalizing disturbed areas, but for a specimen tree in the garden setting, often a cultivar is a better choice.

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Cornus florida

Flowering dogwoods are wonderful trees but can suffer from diseases, especially an introduced one called anthracnose. Cornus fl. ‘Applachian Spring is a selection that was introduced as the most disease-resistant cultivar on the market. It has the typical form and habit of a common dogwood, but the white flowers (really just bracts; the true flowers being the small ones that make up the yellow center) are a little larger and creamier in color. It also has excellent red color in the fall accompanied by red berries that birds find irresistible.

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Foliage of Cornus florida ‘Appalachian Spring’
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Cercis canadensis var. texensis ‘Oklahoma’

Eastern redbuds look stunning with dogwoods, which bloom around the same time. A fine cultivar to try is Cercis canadensis var. texensis ‘Oklahoma‘. This tree was a favorite of plantsman J.C Raulston, and for good reason. ‘Oklahoma’ has a lusterous leaf and consistent deep purple flower color, with the shape of the tree being generally wider and more compact than the straight species.

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‘Oklahoma’ flowers

If you are looking for special trees to plant in your garden or yard, these are unrivaled in their beauty. Since both are native to our region, they are well-suited to our climate and offer benefits to wildlife as well.
We have dogwoods and redbuds in stock. Give us a call – 828.687.1677

AHBA Home & Garden Expo

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We’re at the AHBA Home Expo this weekend – Come out and see us! Leave a comment here to be entered into our drawing for a $50 gift certificate towards a tree or shrub.

Spike Winterhazel – Corylopsis spicata

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Corylopsis spicata or Spike Winterhazel, is a 4 to 6′ high (often over 10′ at maturity) deciduous shrub that blooms in late winter to early spring. The fragrant bell shaped flowers hang in clusters and are a pale creamy yellow. These shrubs have a wide-spreading open growth habit with rather attractive contorted branches. Closely related to witch hazels, they have the same shape at maturity, often being twice as wide as high. The leaves have a crinkled, pleated appearance and emerge a nice purple color and eventually become bluish green.

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As far as landscape plants go, Corylopsis spicata does not need special care, and readily grows in moist, well-drained soil in a spot that is sunny to partially shady. They are well suited to our climate, being hardy zones 5-8. If yellow bells are a little too garish for your taste, the beauty of the Winterhazel is not something you want to miss.

Beyond the Bradford Pear

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When the Bradford pear, Pyrus calleryana ‘Bradford’, made its debut into commercial horticulture in the 60s, it was touted as the perfect street tree. With its early showy bloom, attractive shape and fall color, it had potential. Unfortunately, a few decades of experience have shown that there are many weaknesses that should be considered before planting one of these ubiquitous trees.
While a planting of Bradford pears is a sight to behold, its problems will eventually turn the same planting into an unsightly mess. Fast growing and weak branched, the trees are prone to self-destructing in strong winds or heavy ice. A life span of 20 years is a generous estimate. The flowers have an unpleasant rotting fish smell that attracts flies as pollinators and the small inedible fruit has no wildlife value. Many trees also sucker heavily around their bases and continue to do so for years after the main tree has been removed.
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Instead of planting a tree with such obvious failings, consider planting one that can offer much in the way of quality for your landscape. Over the next few weeks, we will feature flowering trees and shrubs that might not be as common as the Bradford pear, but bring much more to the table than a tree split down the middle.

Tomorrow’s feature is a wonderful flowering shrub, Corylopsis spicata, (spike witchhazel).

Horticultural Oil

Certain refined oils, diluted with water and applied as sprays, are very effective in the control of many plant pests. Oils are great in controlling insect and mite problems, but can also control certain diseases, such as powdery mildew. Although they may be called by different names, they are generally referred to as horticultural oils.

These oils are a very important tool to integrate into biological pest control programs as they pose very few risks to people or beneficial insects. Toxicity is minimal, especially compared to alternative pesticides. Oils control pests through asphyxiation, by interfering with normal metabolism or by disrupting how an insect feeds.

When used in late winter or early spring before plants break dormancy, they are usually mixed at a higher concentration and referred to as dormant oil sprays. These sprays are effective in treating holly, spruce, fir, hemlock and other evergreen species for pests like mites, scale, and adelgids. You should not spray blue spruces as the oils can strip the coloration from the plant. Once plants are in active growth, oils should be mixed at a lower rate and are referred to as summer oil or superior oil sprays. Seasonal outbreaks of aphids, mealybugs and lacebugs can be controlled quite easily. However, caution should be taken with higher temperatures, with certain plant species and plants under stress. Used properly, horticultural oils can play a safe and vital role in pest management. Let Snow Creek Landscaping provide these applications for you.