|By: Rhonda Fleming Hayes - About Rhonda
As a Master Gardener it’s not unusual to tour each other’s gardens. But this one was different. I drove miles under billowing clouds and blue sky, marveling that only the night before tornadoes ripped across the prairie. Combines rolled through the wheat fields making a typical Kansas tableau.
I tried to imagine what the land looked like before the farmers arrived. It would have been a sea of grass. The trees came later.
I pulled into the property and smiled. Lots of gardeners have to grow one of everything. We just need to see what it looks like for ourselves. We are kindly referred to as plantsmen.
This gardener works on a grander scale, having planted a personal arboretum. Hundreds of trees, lovingly labeled, for the enjoyment and education of those lucky enough to know him.
I hadn’t planned on planting any more trees. My property has mature trees along the boundaries and new ones in the pool area. However I found myself making notes, stroking leaves, sampling a sour cherry, and picking up pods. Yeah, I could probably squeeze in a few more trees.
Parks, arboretums and botanical gardens are a great place to “shop” for trees. There you can see trees in a natural setting, in various stages of growth and each season. Consider more than size; flower, leaf, bark and berry all create interest.
I’m going to find room for “Forest Pansy” redbud with its lilac flowers, heart-shape burgundy leaves and dangling pods. It makes an excellent understory tree for a woodland setting.
Lacebark Elm is the perfect street tree, with an umbrella shape for shade while staying under power lines. As it matures the bark exfoliates revealing gray and copper patches.
For fall color nothing does it better than a maple. With names like “Autumn Blaze”® and “October Glory”, need I say more?
For the classic Christmas tree shape choose the Black Hills Spruce, this dark green conifer succeeds as accent tree or windbreak.
You’ve probably heard the saying, “The best time to plant a tree was 10 years ago.” Well, the next best time is today.