Often, too often says my wife, I get on a kick and must plant every Japanese maple or dogwood of good size I can get my hands on. Many years, it’s maples and dogwoods, and last year I had a particular urge to add redbuds (Cercis canadensis) to the list. In this already nearly full garden I planted handfuls of all, and while I have records (somewhere?) for most to back up my faulty memory, there are two redbuds that I haven’t a clue about.
One is an upright, the other a weeper, and today both have indistinctive green leaves, not offering any evidence in their identification. Certainly, I would not have planted a straight, green leafed redbud, and I can account for ‘Ruby Falls’ (above), ‘Golden Falls’ (below), ‘Flame Thrower’, and ‘Whitewater’ planted summer through early spring this year, but I’m striking out considering other possibilities. Someday, perhaps, whatever distinguishes the two will show up.
The variegated mutation of ‘Rising Sun’ redbud (above) is now in its third spring in the garden. I chopped out a few dead branches this week, but otherwise it’s in fine health. I discovered this unique redbud in a tree growing nursery in the North Carolina mountains, and I had to have it. It was delivered that November, but when visiting the nursery again the following July the few hundred ‘Rising Sun’ that stood beside it were now in varying degrees of death and decline due to an as yet little understood fungal disease called Vascular Streak Dieback.
I hope for the best, but every year is a step further from the problem. In mid-May, as leaves begin to mature the varied colors of this redbud’s leaves become more pronounced. There are yellow leaves identical to those of ‘Rising Sun’, solid green leaves, and variations with yellow blotches and streaks on green leaves. As far as I know, it’s one-of-a-kind. Is it superior to other redbuds? Not a chance, and not that I require much inspiration, but this why I’ve gone off the deep end planting other redbuds.
The current rage in redbuds is the multi colored ‘Flame Thrower’ (above), and my small one is coming along splendidly. After planting in late summer, it continued into early autumn sending out a new red leaf here and there to contrast with varying shades of yellow and green. There aren’t enough to go around yet, but it’s a good one.
After seeing ‘Carolina Sweetheart’ growing in the nursery I also had to have one, but then came the decision, could I also fit the variegated, weeping ‘Whitewater’ into the garden, and if not both, which one of the two? In a rare feat of restraint, I did not order both, and ‘Whitewater’ fits perfectly at the top of the path to the rear garden after a bit of rearranging.
I am at least partially satisfied that one of two ‘Silver Cloud’ redbuds (above) with similar variegated leaves to ‘Carolina Sweetheart'(though without purple new growth) has grown back from the roots into what is now a small, multi trunked tree. The two ‘Silver Cloud’ were oldtimers in the garden, but they leaned for more sunlight, then accumulated ice and snow pushed them to the ground. I had no choice but to chop them out, but happily the one is coming back, today growing from behind an enormous Oakleaf hydrangea. One day, it’ll rise up to be seen again.
A seedling (above) of a red leafed ‘Forest Pansy’ that perished in overly damp soil has finally risen above the tall patch of Mountain mint (Pycnanthemum muticum). Typical of seedlings, the head high redbud displays some characteristics of the parent, with similar polished, dark purple leaves as they emerge, but these then fade to green. The spot where it’s growing is not ideal, too close to a Japanese maple, but at least for a few years we’ll let them fight it out. With my current enthusiasm for redbuds, any and all are treasured.