Here at the Gardens, we are always attracted to fastigiate trees. (“Fastigiate” is a fancy word for slender, skinny, or columnar.) They make wonderful vertical accents, interesting groupings of three or more, and can be planted close to the neighbor’s lot line without hanging over the line. In England, you often see hedges of fastigiate trees, especially beech trees.
We have two new fastigiate trees this year. The first is a hybrid oak, Quercus x bimundorum Streetspire®, which grows up to 45’ tall and 14’ wide. Its foliage, which turns red in autumn, falls from the tree after it browns out, unlike so many oaks that keep their brown leaves all winter.
The second is a wonderful little Ginkgo called Goldspire™. It grows 14-16’ tall and only 5-6’ wide. Like most Ginkgos, it turns brilliant yellow in the fall. Both of these two trees are hardy to Zone 4.
Then there is this very interesting Zelkova named Wireless™, which is the exact opposite of a fastigiate tree. It grows more outward than upward, forming a canopy up to 36’ wide, but only 24’ tall. Its brilliant red fall color is a surprisingly bright bonus feature.
We continue to be excited about the new crosses between Japanese and Korean Maples because they have the appearance of Japanese Maples, but the hardiness and better sun tolerance of the Korean. A new one called ‘Wabi sabi’ (Acer x pseudosieboldianum ‘Wabi sabi’) looks very much like one of our favorite Japanese Maples called ‘Viridis’. It has a gently cascading habit with finely divided green leaves that turn to a mix of red, orange and yellow shades in the fall. It grows 8’ tall and 10’ wide, and best of all, it is hardy to Zone 4.
A new flowering tree is a yellow Magnolia called ‘Sunsation’ that is perfect for smaller landscapes. While it still reaches 20-25’ high like other full size Magnolias, it only spreads out 8-10’ wide. The striking 7” long tulip-shaped flowers are held upright and have a rosy-purple shade at the base. Because it flowers later in the spring season, the blossoms aren’t as susceptible to frost damage.
Although the Weeping Norway Spruce in our gardens stayed relatively slender for 15 years, it then decided to really take off, and is now over 25’ wide. It’s a fantastic specimen, but it wouldn’t fit into many gardens or yards. A new one called ‘Frohburg’ (Picea abies ‘Frohburg’) is a narrow, slower-growing form that can be staked to the height desired, and then allowed to weep downward. Once it reaches the ground, it develops a full spreading skirt that can be controlled, if desired, with a minimal amount of pruning. Hardy to Zone 3, so it is a super hardy evergreen feature for your garden.
Deer can sometimes be a problem for arborvitaes in the winter. A variety called ‘Green Giant’ is often recommended as being deer resistant, but it grows quite large, often outgrowing the space too quickly. Now we have a smaller arborvitae called ‘Jr. Giant’ (Thuja plicata ‘Jr. Giant’), which is only around half as big, growing 15-20’ tall and 8-10’ wide.
For many years, we had a Beautybush (Kolkwitzia) growing in our display gardens. It put on a fantastic show of pink flowers every June and was much admired. However, it grew quite large, eating up too much space in the garden, and the wholesale growers quit growing it. We finally removed it. A new variety, Kolkwitzia Jolene Jolene™, should bring the Beautybush back to popularity. It is adaptable and carefree, is hardy to Zone 4, and grows only 4-6’ tall and wide. The June explosion of pink, star-shaped flowers attracts butterflies and humming birds.
Mock Orange is another old-fashioned shrub with great flowers and fragrance, but which has grown out of popularity because it grows larger than most people want. A new variety, Illuminati Arch®, (Philadelphus Illuminati Arch®) brings back those memories of Grandma’s garden, but in a compact size, 4’ tall and wide. The sweetly fragrant flowers are pure white, and the handsome, clean, dark green foliage looks great all season. It would make an excellent fragrant hedge or a striking specimen in the garden. It is deer resistant, drought tolerant, and hardy to Zone 4b.
Check out the foliage on this new Weigela called Vinho Verde™ (named after a special wine from Portugal). It grows 3-5’ tall and wide and produces a light crop of red-pink flowers in late spring. But the lime-green foliage with black borders, coupled with an irresistibly neat habit, are the primary reasons to grow this beauty.
Two new varieties of Fothergilla should prove to be “legendary”. The common name of Fothergilla is Bottlebrush because of the unique, white, bottlebrush-like flowers in spring. But the even bigger draw, as far as we are concerned, is the great show of orange, red, and yellow foliage that develops in the fall. Both of these new varieties grow into dense, rounded shrubs that have outstanding fall color. Legend of the Fall® grows 4-5’ tall and wide, and Legend of the Small® grows a smaller 2-3’ tall and wide. They do well in full sun to part shade, and can even handle nearly full shade, but best flowering and fall color is achieved if they are grown with some sun. We have some Fothergilla planted as foundation plants on the east side of the Barn where they get sun all morning, and they produce great fall color there.
And, of course, we have some new Hydrangeas. Perhaps the most unique new one is Invincibelle® Sublime (Hydrangea arborescens Invincibelle® Sublime), which is in the same family as ‘Annabelle’, but with large green flowers that develop a bit of pink as they fade. Best of all, it reblooms, delivering waves of fresh flowers through autumn. Deadheading is not required, but may be done in order to let the newer blooms shine.