Specimen Tree Suggestions?

Discussion in 'Outdoor Gardening in the Pacific Northwest' started by RightPlantRightPlace, Jun 17, 2021.

  1. RightPlantRightPlace

    RightPlantRightPlace New Member

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    Hi, I've recently moved to the Courtenay/Comox valley and am looking for a specimen tree for my new front yard. My ideal tree would be Fraxinus americana 'Autumn Purple' (I love it!) but due to Ash pests/disease concerns I'm looking for suggestions for something with similar curb appeal. The location is full sun, well draining, and is exposed to some wind. (I was also thinking Magnolia DD Blanchard but the cold wind in winter makes it a no-go.) I'd love to hear your favourites.
     
  2. wcutler

    wcutler Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

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    I'm not the one to answer this, but I looked up those two and they're big trees, growing to 16-20 meters. Is that what you're after? And do you want to be able to eventually sit under it for shade? I don't see that as the case for the magnolia, so am wondering if you want to specify that. How wide a spread are you looking for?
     
  3. RightPlantRightPlace

    RightPlantRightPlace New Member

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    I’d like something a bit on the smaller size from that. Height isn’t much concern but maybe max 8m/25ft spread. I wouldn’t really be sitting under it. I’m looking for visual interest both when pulling into the driveway or looking out the front windows. Either something with a showy season (like the fall colour of the fraxinus) or year round appeal (like the magnolia.)
    Thanks!
     
  4. Georgia Strait

    Georgia Strait Generous Contributor

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    Oh that is pretty

    Fraxinus americana Autumn Purple® | Landscape Plants | Oregon State University

    I wonder @wcutler if there is a relatively disease-free ornamental cherry (or other blossom tree) that has 4-season interest

    Incl fall foliage

    Just don’t give it THE haircut Willard noticed so many times this past spring :)
     
  5. Georgia Strait

    Georgia Strait Generous Contributor

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    Liquidambar is compact nice shape and seems sturdy (grows in màll parking lot)
     
  6. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    If you want to be distinct, don't select something widely planted commercially! That just emphasizes the boring sameness.
     
  7. wcutler

    wcutler Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

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    I would only recommend a cherry if someone wants a cherry. And the one I would recommend isn't available and is rather small. Or I'd recommend one of the ones planted recently at UBCBG, but we don't know so much about how well they will do over time, and I'm not sure how available they are.

    I saw two dogwoods in Stanley Park today and thought of your request, @RightPlantRightPlace. I don't know my dogwoods - I assume these are different cultivars of Cornus kousa, but someone could correct that or name cultivars that look close enough. I prefer the first one, not as much for the shape, though that is pretty interesting, but because the upper sides of the leaves are very dark, and they contrast so nicely with the undersides. So it makes the tree interesting even after the flowers have gone. I found these thrilling, and I remember being so impressed last year as well.
    Cornus-kousa1_LostLagoon_Cutler_20210617_150844.jpg Cornus-kousa1_LostLagoon_Cutler_20210617_151020.jpg Cornus-kousa1_LostLagoon_Cutler_20210617_151047.jpg Cornus-kousa1_LostLagoon_Cutler_20210617_151158.jpg Cornus-kousa1_LostLagoon_Cutler_20210617_151228.jpg

    This other nearby has a lovely broad shape.
    Cornus-kousa2_LostLagoon_Cutler_20210617_150932.jpg Cornus-kousa2_LostLagoon_Cutler_20210617_150954.jpg

    Here is UBCBG's Cornus kousa, photo from three years ago, also very thrilling.
    Cornus-kousa_UBCBG_Cutler_20180526_144820.jpg Cornus-kousa_UBCBG_Cutler_20180526_144847.jpg
     
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  8. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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  9. RightPlantRightPlace

    RightPlantRightPlace New Member

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    Thanks! I’ll check these out!
     
  10. Georgia Strait

    Georgia Strait Generous Contributor

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    I was looking at the list posted above by RonB .... crabapple sounds pretty - with blossoms and later some fall color

    I like the look of the liquidambar and it seems easy care low maintenance in our coast climate — BUT - they have sharp Little fruit that look like teasels - therefore may not work out well for children playing on the lawn etc. (In other words, I re-thought my earlier idea)

    Crabapple = malus
    Some are for fruit farming
    Others are for decoration (ornamental)
     
  11. wcutler

    wcutler Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

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    There are rhododendrons with leaf features that provide interest all year. And there are so many to choose from - you can decide if you want something compact, or leggy that will let you look through the branch framework to see the street. You can have shiny leaves or matte, smallish leaves that look like paddles or leaves larger than my hand span, indumentum (on the leaf undersides) that is interesting to look at or even feel, tomentum on the top of the leaves. You can choose the flowering season you want. There is a recent video by Chris Southwick of Vancouver Island Master Gardeners Association in Nanaimo, BC (around 85 minutes).
    Virtual Gardening Series: Rhododendrons: Beauty, Diversity, and Culture
    From the blurb: "An in-depth look into our native shrub, introducing the many varieties which have come into our gardens from all over the globe. Learn where rhodos fit into garden designs and learn about the basic needs and care of the species as well as proper garden placement, planting and transplanting tips, and pest control." There is also a two-minute video tour of rhodos in Chris's garden.
    Of course, you might want something that doesn't require pest control. And I don't know how expensive it is to start with a tree-sized plant, nor how long it takes for one to grow to tree-size. All the pink ones I'm looking at in Stanley Park right now are trees.
     

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