Sunday, October 11, 2015

Double Duty Trees

Everyone likes to get twice as much for their money or their effort. You can do that with some of your landscape design choices too if you plan ahead. Since now is a great time to plant trees in Georgia, here are a few trees that give you two benefits for one effort: good looking flowers and great fall color.

Dried flower capsules decorate a colorful sourwood (Oxydendrum arboreum)

A very early spring-blooming tree is the red maple (Acer rubrum). Last year I posted pictures of it blooming the first week of March. It has a long spring season of interest because the flowers are replaced by seeds that are quite pretty. In the fall, the red leaves are one of the natural standouts throughout the Southeast.

Multiple leaf shapes on Sassafras albidum

Sassafras (Sassafras albidum) is another early blooming tree, often blooming before the leaves appear. Male and female flowers appear on different trees so you have to have a female to get the showy blue berries, but everyone is guaranteed a fabulous show in the fall.

It’s also a fun tree to show to kids because 3 different shapes of leaves can be found on the same branch.

Amelanchier arborea in spring

Serviceberry (Amelanchier spp.) blooms in April with clusters of soft white flowers. Berries form shortly thereafter and ripen in June (another nickname for this medium-sized tree is Juneberry).

Be prepared to fight the birds for them if you want a snack. Fall color is a mix of burnished yellows, oranges and reds. This makes a great accent tree in the front yard.

Flowering dogwood (Cornus florida) has long been a popular flowering tree in the South, but did you know that it has great fall color? I only realized it several years ago when I noticed a cherry red color in the landscape and realized it was one of my dogwoods. Of course the brilliant red berries, a favorite with birds, make it even more attractive as a choice.

Flowering dogwood (Cornus florida) in fall

If you have enough spring trees, choose the summer-flowering sourwood (Oxydendrum arboreum). Just when you’re wishing for flowers, long sprays of tiny white flowers will appear to light up the garden. Then, early in the fall, the leaves will start to turn, offering a spectacular show of pinkish-purple hues with a touch of orange. It’s a combination that Mother Nature has perfected to delight you.

The summer blooms of sourwood are favorites of bees too

By the way, one of the more common non-native spring-blooming trees is the ornamental cherry, especially the cultivar ‘Yoshino.’ Have you noticed that those trees drop their leaves early in the season with no color display – what a one-hit wonder they are in the Southeastern US! If you have one, consider replacing it with one of these choices.

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