We love to blaze new trails. When it comes to growing and selling trees, we like to go beyond conventional thinking. Consider our innovative Living Tree Chairs, for instance. They allow you to interact with trees in a fun and radically new way. And now? We’ve reimagined the redbud as…that’s right…groundcover! Our clever growers have taken two beloved weeping redbud trees—the green-leaved Pink Heartbreaker® redbud and the burgundy-leaved Ruby Falls redbud—and said, “What if?” What if—instead of following convention and training these lovely redbuds into small weeping patio trees—we allowed them to scramble over the ground? The result is a pair of quirky, free-flowing groundcover “trees” that are unlike anything you’ve ever seen.
But first, some background…
The Pink Heartbreaker® redbud is especially dear to our hearts at Bower & Branch. In 2002, a chance seedling with a cascading habit was found marching to its own tune in a field full of ordinary, upright redbuds at Eaton Farms. Don Eaton, founder of Bower & Branch and owner of Eaton Farms, had to move the tree that summer to make room for another crop, and the stress of transplanting in the midsummer heat nearly did the little tree in. When spring came, only one branch leafed out. Fortunately, this was enough to get the tree into production. Don’s wife, Kathy, named it the Pink Heartbreaker because it had nearly died and broken our hearts.
The Ruby Falls redbud, too, has a story. This tree resulted from several years of patient breeding work by Dr. Dennis Werner at North Carolina State University. He began in 2001 with a weeping redbud known as Lavender Twist® and another redbud known as Forest Pansy. His goal was to breed a redbud that would have burgundy leaves like Forest Pansy while cascading like Lavender Twist®. Nine years later, he had his wish, and Ruby Falls was born.
Seasons of groundcover
These beautifully unique groundcover trees are stunning across all seasons! In spring, vibrant redbud blooms appear and eventually result in a pretty skirt of petals along the ground. In nature, this can lead to delightful spring pictures as the blossoms mingle with wildflowers on the forest floor. However, the effects are fleeting, as the spent petals fade quickly. With our redbud groundcover trees, you can deliberately bring the redbud canopy to the ground level and enjoy the blossoms there during their entire bloom cycle. Imagine sweet lavender-pink redbud blossoms blooming among wildflowers of your choosing. You could plant dainty white Dutchman’s Breeches, captivating Virginia Bluebells, cheery yellow Woodland Poppies, pink, blue, or white Woodland Phlox, or yellow, white, or deep red Trilliums. You could also plant colorful bulbs to coincide with the redbud’s blooms, such as mid-season daffodils or early-season tulips. All of these plants will disappear in the summer, and handsome redbud foliage will cover where they stood.
In summer, redbud leaves emerge as the flowers fade. At first, they appear as precious, tiny hearts sprouting from the branches. They quickly expand and become a striking feature. Pink Heartbreaker® has foliage that first grows in a pale amber green, eventually deepening to a glossy green. Ruby Falls, on the other hand, has vibrant ruby-colored leaves that darken in summer. Both make an extremely attractive blanket (see below)!
In autumn, your groundcover tree will transform yet again. When days become cool and crisp and birds start to head south, Pink Heartbreaker® takes on hues of warm yellow before dropping away, and Ruby Falls will treat you with a display of gold, orange, and red. To increase the intensity of its fall color, make sure it gets plenty of sun!
What can i do with groundcover trees?
There are many ways to utilize these versatile and unique specimens within the landscape. You could plant one in a large container and let it spill over the sides or install one at the top of a retaining wall and let it drape itself elegantly over the edge. A groundcover redbud could tumble gracefully down the face of a rock garden, adding a pleasing contrast of colors and textures to boulders and outcroppings. A groundcover tree could also flow down a barren slope, covering a difficult-to-maintain area with three seasons of interest. Let your imagination run wild!
Caring for your groundcover tree
Although your groundcover redbud seems exotic, it thrives with the same simple care you would give any other native redbud. Plant it in full sun or light shade and make sure it receives plenty of water during the growing season. Excess water must drain away quickly. Mulch it with shredded bark to keep the roots cool and moist and the flowers and foliage clean of mud. Keep in mind that redbuds grow quickly and respond well to pruning!
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