If I cannot be in the garden, I am happiest hiking on a trail bordered by ferns and trilliums, or bumping through hollows (hollars?) planted with rows of dogwoods and redbuds in the mountains of North Carolina. And here I am, again, for nearly the fortieth year, travelling, evaluating and purchasing plants.
A short visit to my garden leaves no doubt that I’m a tree guy, and though there are few Japanese maples grown in these North Carolina mountains, there’s no finer ground for growing maples and oaks, and my cherished redbuds and dogwoods. Here, fertile soil is deep and well drained in bottom land. Trees grow quickly in the heat and humidity with irrigation from fast flowing creeks if the summer turns dry.
Though I might be a bit worn out on bumping through fields in a pickup, there’s hardly a thing I enjoy more than stomping through a muddy patch of brightly colored ‘Rising Sun’ redbuds with old friends (or now, their sons). Shade trees and evergreens are not nearly so exciting, except to appreciate a plant that’s well grown that very soon will be planted on a homeowner’s property where it will flourish for decades to come.
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Eastern redbuds used to be one of my favorite small trees, but the ‘Forest Pansy’ became overly popular. Then, I saw the Oklahoma red bud growing wild! Even bare in winter, I really liked it just growing as if it belonged there; duh. It is nothing like our Western redbud.