Last time we started a conversation about what we were calling upright trees, for use in smaller spaces, and we continue with more specifics on different cultivars that are classified as fastigiate, columnar, and pyramidal.
As we mentioned, fastigiate trees have an upward reaching structure, with long branches nestled closely together, virtually straight up, which makes them narrow compared to the species. Columnar trees are similar in that they are much taller than wide, though a central leader is common and short side branches are what make this form narrow. We also have narrow pyramidal trees as they can be tall enough to create a screen and narrow enough at the base to maintain a low profile.
So where would we use these narrow choices? The image above is a perfect example of a city space, a rooftop to be specific, that benefits from a row of cornelian cherry dogwood (Cornus mas), the ‘Golden Glory’ cultivar. Here as a single-stemmed tree, it will fill out over time while maintaining that upright habit. It offers exactly what is needed to soften this cityscape.
In the next two images you see Carpinus betulus ‘Fastigiata’, the pyramidal European hornbeam. It works well in city settings where architecture can be narrow and vertical, and planting spaces quite tight. It is also used as an accent to match the height of stately homes without overpowering the landscape.
There are maples in narrow forms, Acer saccharum ‘Newton Sentry’, a sugar maple cultivar, being the most narrow, only reaching about 15 feet wide at maturity. Fagus sylvatica ‘Dawyck’, the Dawyck beech, can grow 80 feet tall with only a 10 foot spread. And it has year-round interest with its form, bark, and color, with ‘Dawyck Gold’ and ‘Dawyck Purple’ cultivars.
We showed you the Kindred Spirit® ‘Nadler’ oak last time, and there are other oak cultivars to choose from, most of which are English oak (Quercus robur) or genetic crosses of English oak. Make sure you choose a specimen that is bred with mildew resistant and offers fall color, as these characteristics are not assumed in all cultivars.
We also love narrow conifers as they make great screens and walls of green all year long. Very narrow cultivars are almost spire-like in that they are many times taller than wide. The narrowest of the firs is Abies concolor ‘Pyramidalis’, the pyramidal white fir, though still up to 20 feet wide. Picea abies ‘Cupressina’, the columnar Norway spruce, only grows up to 10 feet wide, and at 20-30 feet tall it is a lovely option. Similar in habit is the columnar Douglas fir, Pseudotsuga menziesii ‘Fastigiata’.
If you thought pine trees were too large for your space try the columnar Swiss stone pine, Pinus cembra ‘Stricta’, growing 20 feet tall and only about 6 feet wide. And there are many arborvitae to choose from, Thuja occidentalis ‘Smaragd’, the emerald arborvitae, and Thuja plicata Spring Grove®, the Western red cedar, at the top of the list as they remain green all winter.
We close with an image of another grand design that incorporates pyramidal evergreens at the perimeter and a fastigate Liriodendron tulipifera, the ‘Arnold’ cultivar, on the terrace. Liriodendron tulipifera ‘Fastigiatum’, the fastigiate tulip tree, is an incredible choice, as it has wonderful flowers.
We hope these options will help you will find a place for trees in your landscape. You’ll find more images of trees on our Pinterest Trees board. As always, any questions please leave a comment. We endeavor to bring you valuable information each week and if there is a topic you wish to learn more about let us know. And join us again, here, in the garden.
Last time we featured Dr. Michael Dirr’s shrub crawl. In addition to shrubs we also talked with Dr. Dirr about trees, specifically noble trees. In an article from Penn State Extension, Dr. Dirr defines noble trees as “anything that spans generations, has a long life, supports wildlife, fixes CO2, spits out oxygen, prevents erosion, increases property values, something that’s inherent in our everyday life.” In his popular presentation “In Praise of Noble Trees” he also mentions traits like “immense in stature”, so much so that one can support a tree house or offer a climbing challenge.
So we are talking about the familiar maples (Acer), oaks (Quercus), and elms (Ulmus), to towering redwooods, (Sequoia, Sequoiadendron, Metasequoia) and many, many others, all of which are stunning, but can require a great deal of space. Dr. Dirr noted that as property sizes decrease in urban areas, “there is a pressing need for smaller trees (height and width).” He uses the term “noblette” for smaller tree selections, they do not possess that immense presence, but have many of the other characteristics and functional attributes.
In the spirit of the noble tree, that can be considered for a smaller space, we bring you a specific oak, the Kindred Spirit® ‘Nadler’ oak cultivar. It is pictured here and has quite the unique shape. This tree is about 35 years old. It is over 30 feet tall and under 8 feet wide! It is its width that makes it more functional for smaller spaces.
This is a hybrid that Earl Cully selected. One of its parents is an upright English oak, botanically Quercus robur ‘Fastigiata’. Fastigiata is Latin for fastigiate, a botanical term for a close, upright branching structure. You might also hear the term columnar, which is similar though with a central leader and short side branches. Columnar forms also have a flat top, resembling an actual column.
There are many trees that offer an upright or columnar form, from the familiar to the really special, like the tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera) we featured in a previous post. The image below, from the Chicago Botanic Garden, shows upright European beech, Fagus sylvatica ‘Fastigiata’ (three trees on the left), and Pyramidal American Arborvitae, Thuja occidentalis ‘Pyramidalis’ (on the right, behind the bench).
We will go into more detail on the shapes and descriptors of these types of trees in our next post. We will also have many cultivars for you to consider, and design ideas in the hopes you can incorporate these distinct specimens, because trees are so valuable to both a landscape design and those enjoying it. Join us again, here, in the garden.
Do you know Dr. Michael Dirr? He is considered a legend in the horticultural field for many reasons, the biggest of which, by weight, is Dirr’s Encyclopedia of Trees and Shrubs. It is a compendium so complete we are in awe that it could be collected and fit into one book.
At the iLandscape 2016 show he graced us with a “shrub crawl”, showing some of the top choices for shrubs and what makes them great. We cannot do his presentation justice in writing because he is quite the speaker, funny and engaging. What we can do though is give you a list of the shrubs he talked about, with a few details if they don’t already speak for themselves. Below is a summary of many of the shrubs featured, some you may know and others are quite new.
Let’s start with boxwood (Buxus), a staple in a formal garden. Green Velvet boxwood was featured with a reminder that it is favored by bees when in bloom in the spring, adding to its value, which can often be limited to a structural presence.
Two viburnums were mentioned, both being natives, Forest Rouge blackhaw viburnum, the ‘McKRouge’ culitvar of Viburnum prunifolium; and Buccaneer witherod viburnum the ‘Buccaneer’ cultivar of Viburnum cassinoides. They both sport lovely white flowers, colorful fruit and fall color.
More natives were praised, like Aesculus parviflora, bottlebrush buckeye. It produces a fantastic flower and naturally controls weeds beneath its spread. Cornus sericea ‘Bergeson’, commonly ‘Bergeson’ redtwig dogwood, is a native covering eastern North America.
Physocarpus opulifolius, ninebark, was also featured with two different cultivars. ‘Donna May’, Little Devil ninebark, has small, purple-tinged foliage and is considered a tough little gem. It is pictured on the left in the image below. The ‘Jefjam’ cultivar, Amber Jubilee ninebark, has unique coppery, yellow-orange foliage; bright orange in the spring, fades a bit in summer and then goes russet in fall. This one is zone 2 hardy, excellent for far north climates.
Two more specimens that Dr. Dirr praised were hybrids he worked on personally. Magnolia stellata ‘Centennial Blush’, or ‘Centennial Blush’ magnolia, is thrilling because its fragrant flowers have a “massive number of tepals”, more than four dozen. It flowers young and buds are prolific. It will be about 10-15 ‘ tall and can be single or multi-stem, with an upright habit, hardy root system, and “performs as promised”.
The last one we will mention today is a bigleaf hydrangea, Hydrangea macrophylla, from the Endless Summer® series. This one is called BloomStruck®, and it is one of those new specimens. It had been in development for 5 years and they began marketing in 2014. Dr. Dirr spoke in such favor of this hybrid many were very excited. It is touted as an incredible rebloomer, rich in color, and cold hardy, even the old wood buds are said to handle sub-zero temperatures.
If you have seen any of these, be it the cultivars or the straight species, Instagram your pictures with #MyMariani and tell us a bit about how they are doing in your garden. And join us next time, here in our garden.
Last time we talked about the “New German Style” of planting and how landscapes are designed to mimic nature. A landscape can transport you to another place, and even time. Plant materials, hardscapes, and custom features are expertly chosen to create a tangible design, and also a sense of something we hold dear. Today we show you some exceptional images that capture the energy of their inspiration. All of today’s images are credited to Linda Oyama Bryan.
First, an Italianate design, so stunning you might think you were in Italy. You can find some before and after images of this project in a previous post. Further below, in a Mediterranean theme, is a covered terrace that could be perched on a plateau overlooking the sea.
Maybe you prefer an English estate, with its expanse of formal lawn and stone walls. Below you will find two less formal designs. The first is clearly in the style of a cottage garden, just one of the multiple gardens at that site. The next one is reminiscent of a Provence garden.
Do you have childhood memories of stories around the fire? Share that wonderful time with your family and friends. The image below is from a feature we posted last year.
See what an outdoor space can evoke-visions of places we have been, or would love to see; memories that we cherish; and a fulfillment of a desire that only nature can offer. Please, join us again, here in the garden.