Trees That Please

Surefire investments in some standout varieties

When choosing a tree, it’s important to make sure it is a four-season performer.   And a tree should be largely pest- and disease-free and not require tons of pruning.  Here are some recommendations for a few trees that you will never regret planting. Whatever you choose, it will be one of the best investments you’ll ever make.

Name: Japanese stewartia (Stewartia pseudocamellia),   Zones: 5 to 8

Japanese stewartia (Stewartia pseudocamellia)

Japanese stewartia is known for its camellia-like flowers in late spring and early summer. The white blooms have a bright orange center and open sporadically over a two- to three-week period.

It has a spectacular fall display—sporting yellow, red, and mahogany-colored leaves all on the same plant. The new leaves emerge a bronze-purple in early spring, turning dark green throughout the growing season; even the new twig growth is a reddish color. After the flowers are gone, a decorative seedpod remains. As a final note of interest, Japanese stewartia has reddish tan and gray-brown exfoliating bark that exposes a creamy white layer underneath. This tree has a dense, upright, pyramidal habit at first, then forms an open, rounded crown as it matures. It likes full sun to partial shade and prefers moist, well-drained soil. Japanese stewartia is also relatively slow growing until established.

Name: ‘Wolf Eyes’ kousa dogwood (Cornus kousa ‘Wolf Eyes’),  Zones: 5 to 8

'Wolf Eyes' kousa dogwood (Cornus kousa 'Wolf Eyes')

One look at this small tree and you’ll understand why it got its name. Its showy white flowers cover the tree in late spring; with their bright green centers, they almost appear to be staring back at you. Some trees will bloom for several weeks, extending into late summer. ‘Wolf Eyes’ is upright and vase-shaped as a young tree—some say it is rather stiff looking. But with age, it develops into a broad, spreading tree with a horizontal branching habit. These trees are happiest in partial to full shade and moist, well-drained soil. After several years, ‘Wolf Eyes’ kousa dogwood develops a beautiful, well-defined, exfoliating bark of grays, tans, and rich brown tones. The bark patterns are more evident when the trunk is wet. Its fall leaf colors range from orange to mahogany. Large raspberry-shaped fruit appear in late summer and are a great food source for birds but are also edible to humans.


Name: Persian ironwood (Parrotia persica), Zones: 5 to 8

Persian ironwood (Parrotia persica)
Persian ironwood is a deciduous tree with a distinctive spreading habit, similar to witch hazel (Hamamelis spp. and cvs., Zones 5–9). Most of these trees have a single, relatively short trunk that forks near the ground, and a rounded crown composed of wide, arching—or even drooping—branches. Persian ironwood’s best trait is its brilliant autumn foliage, which can include yellows, reds, and oranges; it reminds me of a parrot’s feathers. The exfoliating bark peels and flakes, creating a mottled patchwork of green, beige, white, and gray blotches. Unlike other trees that rely on just their bark for winter interest, this tree flowers in late winter, producing a plethora of small spiderlike, ruby red flowers. Persian ironwood is a slow-growing tree that is virtually free of pests and diseases and tolerates acidic to alkaline soils. It is also tolerant of drought, wind, urban air pollution, and soil compaction. The best fall color is produced on plants growing in acidic soil in full sun.

Our nursery has several of these trees in stock.  Call Urban Gardens at 410-833-4930 to inquire about availability on these and other great varieties we have!