Ask Elaine: June-flowering Trees

Dear Elaine,

Do you have any ideas for June-flowering trees? I would like to get one to celebrate our wedding anniversary. Thank you.


Dear Yvonne,

Congratulations on your wedding anniversary! A flowering tree is a great sentimental gift idea. I have some suggestions:

Consider Chionanthus virginicus, fringe tree. It usually is multi-stemmed and grows between 12 and 20 feet tall. It likes full sun to partial shade. This native tree has drooping, thread-like flowers that are pure white. The fall leaf color is yellow. Find one in the Native Plant Garden and at the south end of Dorothy’s Way.

Sweetbay magnolia, Magnolia virginiana, is a semi-evergreen native tree that grows to about 20 feet, more in the southern United States. It likes full sun to part shade, acid soil and tolerates moist soil. The creamy-white flowers carry a strong vanilla scent that can perfume an entire small garden. Showy cone-like fruits with bright red seeds mature in fall. Sadly, our sweetbay magnolia near the Vail parking lot and Sensory Garden was damaged in the March 2018 snowstorm.

The majestic tulip tree, Liriodendron tulipifera, is in the magnolia family. It can grow to be quite huge, over 100 feet. The flowers are cupped, like a tulip, with chartreuse petals and a neon orange center. The leaves have the outline of a tulip flower and are a brilliant yellow in autumn. There is a young plant in the Native Plant Garden and an old timer on Ridge Road (see What’s in Bloom? in this month’s e-newsletter).

Finally, Japanese snowbell, Styrax japonicus, is loaded with slightly fragrant pendulous white flowers in late spring.  his 20- to 25-foot-tall tree likes full sun or partial shade, and moist, acid, well-drained soil. As the tree ages, the outer bark peels to reveal a deep orange inner bark, very attractive in winter. We have a snowbell tree on Fairway.

There is ornamental tree life after early spring-flowering dogwoods and redbuds. Stroll through the arboretum or go on a guided tour any third Sunday, 12:30 pm, April through October.

Get ready for summer!

Elaine Fogerty
Executive Director

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