If at first ….

With limited spaces available in this thirty-three year old garden, finding appropriate locations for new plantings is often a challenge. A Seven Son tree (Heptacodium miconioides) was lost in a storm several years ago with no identical replacement available at the time. A red horse chestnut (Aesculus x carnea, a marvelous tree) was planted instead, but I constantly watched for another Seven Son of substantial size. Almost always, I figure room for both can be worked out, so a loss can turn to a win when one favorite becomes two.

No matter that I had no idea where another could be planted, when a newly introduced, compact growing Seven Son (‘Temple of Bloom’) became available I grabbed one immediately. With plant in hand, the inspiration must come quickly, so with a few tall nandinas transplanted several feet further from the path, a space was created.

The new spot is more shaded than its original location so bees visit only in the afternoon, but the tree flowered fully so this is a success. The too tall nandinas are now in the background with a favorite up front, and I think with enough room to grow with periodic pruning.

The abundant small, white flowers of the Seven Son will fade in September, but will be followed by reddish bracts that are arguably more lovely than its blooms. Peeling bark on older trees is a lesser ornament, but I hope never to be without a Seven Son and look forward to it gaining size to arch over the path.

In late summer, the abundance of red fruits of Kousa dogwoods (Cornus Kousa, above) varies on sun facing sides of the tree. If only a few or many this is a splendid feature, though not as ornamental as its late May bloom when foliage disappears beneath a cover of white flowers.

Kousa and hybridized Kousa crosses are resistant to the various maladies that unfortunately plague our native dogwood (Cornus florida), with hybrids flowering just as the native fades in bloom and Kousa flowering as the hybrids fade. Both maintain the beauty of dogwood, and ones with a variety of green and variegated leaves are scattered about the garden.

Flowers of Autumn Twist are variable, ranging from solid purple to pinkish-white striped with purple.

Reblooming Encore azaleas (‘Autumn Twist’, above) flowered sparsely on the shaded east facing garden when I first trialled them just prior to their introduction. The breeder assured that better flowering would result with more sun, but in another year all flowered acceptably, and without lace bugs that had convinced me never to plant another azalea.

As the garden became more crowded, the short period of sunlight was further diminished though flowering was not. Several years ago, a large yew was removed, allowing the late afternoon sun to sneak under branches of a serviceberry (Amelanchier) and three Japanese maples (Acer palmatum). Flowering on the ‘Autumn Twist’ azalea in the brightest sunshine has increased, but not by a considerable margin.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. donpeters43 says:

    I, too, have a Seven Son tree. It’s about 8 years old, and I really enjoy it. But one major problem I have is that some animal (squirrel) loves to tear strips of bark from it, giving the tree a ragged look. I put wire mesh around the trunk, up from about 4′ from the ground, but the animal climbs above that to strip the bark. I wish there was something I could do to stop this problem.

    1. Dave says:

      Climbing rabbits? That’s a new one. My Seven Son snapped cleanly at the base in a downburst that cut a path of destruction a mile long. I figured a vigorous tree like Seven Son would grow back quickly from the roots, but there was never a sign of growth.

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