Tag Archive: specimen tree


Washingtonia robusta in the National Garden, Athens, Greece

Washingtonia robusta in the National Garden, Athens, Greece

Whilst there are a few trees with common names beginning with ‘W’ (e.g. Whitebeam, Willow) the choice on botanical names is once more limited. So you could argue that my choice is really a large (very large), grass rather than a tree, and a bit of a rarity in the U.K. But as the Washingtonia palm can be grown as an ornamental garden tree, I think I might just get away with it…

Common name: Named after George Washington, there are two species:

  • Washingtonia filifera, known also as California Washingtonia, Northern Washingtonia, California fan palm, or Desert fan palm.

  • Washingtonia robusta also known as Mexican Washingtonia, Southern Washingtonia or Thread Palm.

Native areas: Washingtonia is a genus of palms, native to the southwestern United States and northwest Mexico Both Washingtonia species are commonly cultivated across the southern USA, Middle East, southern Europe and north Africa, where they have greatly hybridized. The filifera species is also attempted in cooler climates, including the milder parts of the southern British Isles.

Washingtonia in a natural setting by Jim Harper

Washingtonia in a natural setting by Jim Harper

Historical notes: There is a persistent myth that these palms were brought to the Americas by the ancient Egyptians and their seeds were distributed in the waterways of the Western Californian area. The fruit of the Washingtonia was eaten raw, cooked, or ground into flour for cakes by native Americans. The Cahuilla and related tribes used the leaves to make sandals, thatch roofs, and baskets. The stems were used to make cooking utensils. The Moapa band of Paiutes as well as other Southern Paiutes have written memories of using this palm’s seed, fruit or leaves for various purposes including starvation food.

Features:  They are fan palms, with the leaves with a bare petiole terminating in a rounded fan of numerous leaflets. The flowers are in a dense inflorescence, with the fruits maturing into a small blackish-brown drupe 6–10 mm diameter with a thin layer of sweet flesh over the single seed. W. filifera can grow to around 23 metres tall, whilst robusta gets up to 25 metres. W. filifera has white flowers and large leaves and robusta pale orange-pink flowers, smaller leaves and narrower trunk. The fruit are eaten by birds, which disperse the seeds in their droppings after digesting the fruit pulp.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Uses: Both species are cultivated as ornamental trees, as specimens, or more often in groups along side roads, in parks and other such open spaces. W. robusta is suitable for coastal gardens.

Growing conditions:  W. filifera is very hardy in a dry climate and able to survive brief temperatures in the vicinity of -15 °C (5 °F), provided the air and soil are not too wet, and the afternoon temperatures are not too cold. Intolerance of wet, prolonged cold is the main reason the filifera species cannot grow properly in temperate marine climates. W. robusta is less sensitive to moisture than filifera, grows faster, but is far more easily damaged by cold. Grow outside in fertile, well-drained soil in full sun.

Further information:

Wikipedia

Old School Gardener

Advertisements
Camperdown Elm in Leamington, Ontario, Canada. Picture: jim5870

Camperdown Elm in Leamington, Ontario, Canada. Picture: jim5870

As we come to the end of this A-Z the options open become rather constrained; so today I’ve chosen a neat and compact variety of the Wych Elm, which can also be resistant to Dutch Elm disease.

Common name:  Camperdown Elm

Native areas: Ulmus glabra (Wych elm or Scots elm), the parent of this variety, has the widest range of the European elm species, from Ireland eastwards to the Urals, and from the Arctic Circle south to the mountains of Greece; it is also found in Iran. The tree was by far the most common elm in the north and west of the British Isles and is now acknowledged as the only indisputably British native elm species.

The original sport in Camperdown Park, Dundee. Picture: Peter Bourne

The original sport in Camperdown Park, Dundee. Picture: Peter Bourne

Historical notes: About 1835–1840, the Earl of Camperdown’s head forester, David Taylor, discovered a young contorted elm tree (a sport) growing in the forest at Camperdown House, in Dundee, Scotland. The young tree was lifted and replanted within the gardens Camperdown House where it still remains to this day. The original tree is less than 3 m tall, with a dramatic weeping habit and contorted branch structure and grows on its own roots. The earl’s gardener is said to have produced the first of what are commonly recognised as Camperdown elms by grafting it to the trunk of a Wych Elm (Ulmus glabra). Every ‘Camperdownii’ is descended (as cuttings taken from that original sport) and usually grafted on a Wych elm trunk.  Other grafting stock has been used. In Dundee, Scotland, there are two well established Camperdownii Elms at the gated entrance to a private residence on Constitution Terrace. Both trees have grown so they intertwine with each other and create the illusion of one tree in the summer months. The tree is likely to have been cultivated around 1850, the same age as the Victorian mansion situated in the grounds which was built around 1850. 

Ulmus_glabra_Camperdownii in Québec-Coulonges. Picture: Gilbert Bochenek

Features: The grafted Camperdown Elm slowly develops a broad, flat head that may eventually build as high as 4 m (13 feet) and an incommensurately wide crown with a contorted, weeping habit. The tree is often confused with the much taller ‘Horizontalis’ (Weeping Wych elm) owing to both being given the epithet ‘Pendula’ at some stage. It does not reproduce from seed. Neat and compact, it produces clusters of attractive hop-like flowers in the spring and its lustrous leaves add to its overall effect.

Uses:   Camperdown Elms satisfied a mid-Victorian passion for curiosities in the ‘Gardenesque’ gardens then in vogue. Many examples were planted, as ‘rarities’, in Britain and America, wherever elite gardens were extensive enough for tree collections. There are many on university campuses, often planted as memorials. Camperdown Elms are used in stately landscaping of American university campuses and others feature in townscapes. A small weeping tree with a dome shaped head, it looks good growing  as a specimen in a lawn in parks and gardens.

Growing conditions:  Camperdown Elm is cold hardy, suffering more from summer drought than winter cold. ‘Camperdownii’ can be susceptible to Dutch Elm disease, however there are still many examples to be found in parks and gardens across the British Isles as it often avoids detection by the Scolytae beetle (a major vector of Dutch Elm Disease) because of its diminutive height. Grow in average, medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun. Tolerant of light shade. Prefers rich, moist loams. Adapts to both wet and dry sites. Generally tolerant of urban conditions. Non-suckering. 

Further information:

Wikipedia

Ulmus glabra ‘Camperdownii’– Missouri Botanical Garden

Old School Gardener

paulownia-500x500So many trees beginning with ‘P’- which to choose? My choice is a tree that poses a dilemma- to prune or not to prune? If you do, you will encourage massive foliage which is a fabulously exotic addition to any garden. Alternatively, don’t and you get some wonderful flowers…the choice is yours.

Common name: Foxglove Tree, Empress Tree, Princess Tree

Native areas: Pawlonia tomentosa (syn. P. imperialis) is native to Japan and central and western China, where it has become virtually extinct due to a pathogen. It has become very common in North America, where it is considered an exotic invasive species. It was introduced to the UK in 1834.

Historical notes: The tree was named after Anna Pavlovna, daughter of Tsar Paul I and wife of Prince Willem of the Netherlands. In China, the tree is planted at the birth of a girl. The fast-growing tree matures when she does. When she is eligible for marriage the tree is cut down and carved into wooden articles for her dowry. Carving the wood of Paulownia is an art form in Japan and China. In legend, it is said that the phoenix will only land on the Empress Tree and only when a good ruler is in power. Several Asian string instruments are made from P. tomentosa.

The soft, lightweight seeds were commonly used as a packing material by Chinese porcelain exporters in the 19th century, before the development of polystyrene packaging. Packing cases would often leak or burst open in transit and scatter the seeds along rail tracks and near to ports. The magnitude of the numbers of seeds used for packaging, together with seeds deliberately planted for ornament, has allowed the species to be viewed as an invasive species in areas where the climate is suitable for its growth, notably Japan and the eastern United States.

Features: Paulownia tomentosa is an extremely fast-growing tree; its growth rings have been measured at three every inch. However the UK’s climate slows this down, and any growth under a pencil thickness generally succumbs to winter frosts, and which in turn contribute to its overall broadness. It will ultimately grow to 10–25 m (33–82 ft) tall, with large heart-shaped to five-lobed leaves 15–40 cm (6–16 in) across, arranged in opposite pairs on the stem. On young growth, the leaves may be in whorls of three and be much bigger than the leaves on more mature growth. The leaves can be mistaken for those of the Catalpa.

The very fragrant flowers are formed in autumn and then open in spring before the leaves in early spring (May), on panicles 10–30 cm long, with a tubular purple corolla 4–6 cm long resembling a foxglove flower. However, if there is a prolonged period where winter temperatures fall below minus 5 degrees celsius, no flowers will develop the following spring.The fruit is a dry egg-shaped capsule 3–4 cm long, containing numerous tiny seeds. The seeds are winged and disperse by wind and water. Pollarded trees do not produce flowers, as these only form on mature wood. A mature tree in its native environment can produce up to 20 million seeds a year!

Uses: P. tomentosa is cultivated as an ornamental tree in parks and gardens. It has gained the RHS Award of garden Merit (AGM). The characteristic large size of the young growth is exploited by gardeners: by pollarding the tree and ensuring there is vigorous new growth every year, massive leaves are produced (up to 60 cm across). These are popular in the modern style of gardening which uses large-foliaged and “architectural” plants. Alternatively it can be grown for its attractive, fragrant flowers.

Growing conditions: a fast growing, medium to large tree, it does best in a sunny, reasonably sheltered site, preferably in moist, humus-rich, fertile soils. Protect young trees from frost. Can be pollarded. Very tolerant of atmospheric pollution.

Paulowni_imperialis_SZ10Further information:

Wikipedia

RHS- Pawlonia tomentosa

Barcham trees directory- Pawlonia tomentosa

Old School Gardener

Picture by Famartin

Picture by Famartin

 I see its been some months since my last post in this series, so it’s about time I got going and finished the alphabet! The ‘N’ in my garden trees series is Nyssa sylvatica, introduced to the UK 250 years from the U.S. and considered by many to be the finest of that country’s native trees.

Common name: Tupelo, black gum tree, common tupelo tree, cotton gum, pepperidge, sour gum tree

Native areas: Nyssa sylvatica grows in various uplands and in alluvial stream bottoms in eastern north America, as far south as florida and locally in central and southern Mexico Optimum development is made on lower slopes and terraces in the South eastern U.S.

Historical notes: Introduced from America in 1750, Nyssa sylvatica’s genus name (Nyssa) refers to a Greek water nymph; the species epithet sylvatica refers to its woodland habitat. On Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts it is called “beetlebung”, perhaps for its use in making the mallet known as a beetle, used for hammering bungs (stoppers) into barrels.

Features: Nyssa are deciduous trees with ovate leaves colouring brilliantly in autumn; inconspicuous flowers are followed by small, dull purple fruits. N. sylvatica is small (generally 15-25 metres tall), slow-growing and with an elegant, broadly conical habit with a maximum spread of 6-10 metres. Ovate leaves to 15cm in length turn brilliant red and yellow in autumn. It has a trunk diameter of around 50–100 centimetres. These trees typically have a straight trunk with the branches extending outward at right angles. The bark is dark grey and flaky when young, but it becomes furrowed with age, resembling alligator hide on very old stems. Though insignificant to look at, its flowers are an important source of honey and its fruits are important to many bird species. Hollow trunks provide nesting or denning opportunities for bees and various mammals. It is the longest living non-clonal flowering plant in Eastern North America, capable of reaching ages of over 650 years.

Uses:  Nyssa sylvatica gained the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit (AGM) in 2002. It is an architectural tree requiring little or no maintenance. Useful in parks and large gardens, it is often used as a specimen or shade tree. The tree is best when grown in sheltered but not crowded positions, developing a pyramidal shape in youth, and spreading with age. The stem rises to the summit of the tree in one tapering unbroken shaft, the branches come out at right angles to the trunk and either extend horizontally or droop a little, making a long-narrow, cone-like head. The leaves are short-petioled and so have little individual motion, but the branches sway as a whole. The spray is fine and abundant and lies horizontally so that the foliage arrangement is not unlike that of the beech (Fagus). Its often spectacular autumnal colouring, with intense reds to purples, is highly valued in landscape settings.

Growing conditions: Grow in moist, humus-rich, fertile soils with shelter from cold, dry winds. Resents transplanting so grow from small containerised plants. They do not tolerate lime soils.

Autumn colour- picture by Jean pol Grandmont

Autumn colour- picture by Jean pol Grandmont

Further information:

Wikipedia

RHS- Nyssa sylvatica

Barcham trees directory- Nyssa sylvatica

Old School Gardener

PushUP24

Health, Fitness, and Relationships is a great way to start living again.

TIME GENTS

Australian Pub Project

Vanha Talo Suomi

a harrowing journey of home improvement

How I Killed Betty!

The Diary and blog on How to Tackle Depression and Anxiety!

Bits & Tidbits

RANDOM BITS & MORE TIDBITS

Rambling in the Garden

.....and nurturing my soul

The Interpretation Game

Cultural Heritage and the Digital Economy

pbmGarden

Sense of place, purpose, rejuvenation and joy

SISSINGHURST GARDEN

Notes from the Gardeners...

Deep Green Permaculture

Connecting People to Nature, Empowering People to Live Sustainably

BloominBootiful

A girl and her garden :)

gwenniesworld

ABOUT MY GARDEN, MY TRAVELS AND ART

Salt of Portugal

all that is glorious about Portugal

The Ramblings of an Aspiring Small Town Girl

Cooking, gardening, fishing, living, laughing.

aristonorganic

"The Best of the Best"

PetalPushin

Thoughts from a professional Petal Pusher

Free Spirit Publishing Blog

An idea exchange for kids' education

%d bloggers like this: