Monday, May 27, 2013

Garden Designers' Roundtable: Celebrating Trees

Perennials may be considered the queens of the landscape, but trees are most certainly the kings.  No other plant does more to moderate our climate and set the scale of our outdoor spaces.

Trees are dynamic, colorful, and textural sculptures that control our views, serve as focal points, and unify our neighborhoods and cities.

When I'm selecting a tree for a landscape design I focus on these three key criteria:
Cultural compatibility — will it thrive in the sites' soil, sunlight, and water availability.

A pinyon pine, Pinus edulis, thrives in a narrow planting area adjacent to a sun and heat drenched parking lot.
This protected courtyard planting pocket at the base of a rain chain is the perfect site for a Japanese maple, Acer palmatum in the foothills of Boulder County.
Size — will it fit the space and job it's intended for.
This Colorado blue spruce, Picea pungens, has plenty of room to grow in a suburban  landscape and makes an effective year-round screen.
This ginnala maple, Acer ginnala, is the perfect size for an intensive pruning regime at Denver Botanic Garden's Japanese Garden.
Aesthetics — does it have decorative aspects that are multi-seasonal.
Showy flowers in spring and colorful, persistent fruit via Crimson Cloud hawthorn, Crataegus laevigata 'Superba'
Edible, mid-summer fruit follows springtime flowers, and showy fall foliage color. Autumn Brilliance serviceberry, Amelanchier x grandiflora

Vibrant fall foliage follows a floriferous springtime display on Cleveland Select pear, Pyrus calleryana.
Bark is beautiful, year-round attribute that can't be beat. Shown here:  sycamore, Platanus acerifolia.
Curious about the best trees for Colorado's Front Range? Read about the experts' selections and how those in my own yard rated, here.

Join my fellow Roundtable designers for more, more, and more celebrations of trees!


Susan Cohan said...

What great design advice for any region. Every common mistake I see is addressed here. Thanks, I hope it makes a difference!

Scott Hokunson said...

Three great keys for anyone to consider. Great post Jocelyn!

David C. said...

So many attributes you show within your (3) part criteria. But the bark is something, like other such details, that I often miss, being such a generalist! As sycamores (London Plane, California, and Arizona) are so common, I do always enjoy their mottled bark and unique scent. Great points!

Jocelyn H. Chilvers said...

Thanks, Susan! Trees have such an huge impact --- it's important to get them right!

Thanks, Scott!

David, I agree that --- with a few exceptions --- bark is often overlooked. Gotta keep our eyes open!

Anonymous said...

A most excellent primer. Great photos too! Thank you!

Debbie/GardenofPossibiities said...

Jocelyn, Those are all essentials for selecting a tree and yet somehow one or more is often overlooked. I often see homeowners err on the size issue. 50' tall doesn't seem too big when you read it on the label but that's a BIG tree. Your photo of the ginnala maple is wonderful.