Summer is for cookouts, picnics, fun in the sun, and lounging by the pool. But what is summer without Trees, Spirits, Accents, and Fringe? They all work together to make each and every outdoor space a beautiful oasis—an oasis that families can enjoy for generations to come. This is what our summer lookbook is all about, and we know it will inspire you.
Seven Son Flowers was brought to the U.S. by Harvard's famed plant explorer E.H. "Chinese" Wilson in 1907. However, no plants survived that trip, and the species fell back into obscurity. Seventy-three years later, Americans again ventured to China to locate the rare plant and were successful. Today gardeners can get their hands on this wonderful tree that is still quite uncommon. The plant's name refers to how the tiny flowers are grouped into clusters of seven. They resemble the flowers of honeysuckle - to which they are related - and are butterfly manna.
It wasn’t the grand Southern Magnolia that first made its way into English gardens, but the more delicate Sweet Bay. John Banister, an English missionary in Virginia, sent seeds of the tree back home in 1688; it was the first Magnolia to be grown in Europe. Tragically, Banister’s collecting days would be cut short a few years later, when he was accidentally shot while exploring the Roanoke River. Our “Multi-Stem” Sweet Bays are grown the way they often appear in the wild—with a “clump” of three or more trunks.
Two of the oldest Paper bark Maple trees in North America, reside at the Arnold Arboretum in Boston. Ernest Henry Wilson, through the support of the Arboretum, collect the seedlings on an expedition to China in 1907. The historic 100 year old maples are located near Bradley Garden and Bussey Hill within the Arboretum. The tree on Bussey Hill is oddly shaped due to the loss of its leader some time ago and considerably smaller but continues to produces perfect flowers and viable seeds. This tree is believed to be the source of the first generation of Paper bark Maples planted in North America.
Arborvitae means “Tree of Life”; the Vitamin C in the needles of the Eastern species saved early explorers from succumbing to scurvy (we’ll stick to orange juice). This variety is a hybrid between a Western species and one from Japan. It was first grown at the Poulsen family nursery in Denmark (yes, the one that brought us ‘Emerald Green,’ too) in 1937, and then shared with the National Arboretum in Washington, D.C. in 1967. Once the public found out about it (which didn’t happen until the late 1990s), they loved it.
The original Kindred Spirit® Oak Tree has had over 40 years to prove its merits, and it has clearly shown itself to be a winner. In 1974, it was one acorn among one thousand planted by the legendary nurseryman, Earl Cully, of Jacksonville, Illinois. Cully had crossed the upright Columnar English Oak with our native Swamp White Oak in hopes of combining the best attributes of both. Out of the hundreds of seedlings that he grew from that pairing, only a few trees made the final cut. The elegant Regal Prince® Columnar Oak was the first introduction, and Kindred Spirit®—with an even tighter habit than its brother—was the second.
Because of its rock-hard wood (“horn” alludes to hardness, while “beam” is an Old English word for “tree”), Hornbeam has played many roles in human life. Through the ages, it has found its way into tool handles, butcher blocks, spokes, yokes, and piano keys. These days, it is more likely to live out its days as a hedge or screen. Often planted on the grounds of royals, this tree lends an air of sophistication to any home, indicating that a person of exquisite taste must certainly reside within!
Colorado Spruce inhabits the Rocky Mountains of Canada and the U.S. It’s a nice but ho-hum tree in its usual wild form: a tall, snow-shedding pyramid, carrying fresh green needles all year-round. When it was discovered that powder-blue specimens could be had, however, the tree rocketed to the top of many wish lists. It became the go-to accent plant in Northern gardens across the country (it struggles in the Southeast). This columnar variety first appeared in Canada around 1987 and made it to the U.S. a few years later.
Fourth-generation nurseryman Don Shadow is always on the lookout for plants doing interesting things, but he wouldn’t have had to be an expert plantsman to notice this guy—the original Slender Silhouette was 60 feet tall and only 3 feet wide when he found it growing by the railroad tracks. Don also has a passion for unusual animals and raises 60 different species (several of them endangered) on his Winchester, Tennessee farm. Ever heard of an eland? A gayal? He’s also got camels, buffalos, wallabies, alpacas, yaks—even a zonkey!
This species, our native Eastern Arborvitae, has the longest lifespan of any North American tree east of the Rockies, and can live 1,700 years. ‘Emerald Green’ didn’t originate here, however. It emerged from a Danish nursery in 1950, which is why you’ll sometimes see this tree referred to as ‘Smaragd’—Danish for “Emerald.” The descendants of the original owner of that nursery, D.T. Poulsen, are still running the business, though their attentions have turned to plant breeding, and they specialize in roses. Some 30 million ‘Poulsen’ roses are produced annually.
Native to much of the eastern U.S., the Eastern Redbud Tree is that showy tree you see near woodland edges addinga pop of early spring color to the roadsides with its masses of small pink flowers. It brings a warm golden glow to those same areas in fall with its changing leaves. The Alley Cat Redbud Tree was discovered by plantsman Allen Bush in an alley near his home in Louisville, Kentucky. Unlike some other variegated Redbuds, the new tree shows an alley cat toughness; the foliage doesn’t scorch in sun, nor does the variegation fade in hot weather. Some believe it’s the best variegated Redbud on the market.
This tree is the result of both carefully planned breeding and sheer luck. The original tree, Celestial White®, was the outcome of a deliberate breeding program masterminded by Dr. Elwin Orton of Rutgers University. His plan: to wed our native Flowering Dogwood with the Japanese KousaDogwood, thus imparting the descendants with beefed-up disease resistance. It was a rousing success. Now for the luck part: one Celestial® tree at Don Shadow’s Tennessee nursery sprouted a variegated-leaved branch. Don knew just what to do—get it into production and share it!
The European Beech tree is a cousin to our own American Beech, but has a much longer history of cultivation in gardens. As a result, only a few hard-to-find named selections of American Beech exist (the rest are raised from seed), whereas many different varieties of European Beech may be found for sale, including those having purple, gold, variegated, or lacy leaves, or having a dwarf, weeping, columnar, or contorted form. The first mention of this variegated Tri-Color form (you may also find it listed as ‘Roseomarginata’) was in the 1880s.