What is your favorite deciduous specimen tree?

Bend, OR(Zone 4b)

Hello again, Rocky Mtn gardeners. I have a large spot right in the middle of our lawn that would be perfect for a large deciduous tree. It needs to be able to withstand zone 4 weather at 3800ft. Do you have a favorite? What would you recommend?

Carson City, NV(Zone 6b)

What sort of attributes are you looking for a tree? Pretty flowers, fall color, interesting bark, fruit for wildlife? Some of my favorite trees for cold areas are: Northern Catalpa and Tulip Tree. Since it's in a lawn you might want to think about leaf and fruit size since you probably don't want to rake before mowing.

Parker, CO(Zone 5b)

OMG, there's too many to think of. What size are you looking for? Spring/Summer/Fall foliage?

Albuquerque, NM(Zone 7b)

Since its going to be in the middle of a lawn, I would look for one with less dense leaf coverage so the lawn still gets sunlight.

Bend, OR(Zone 4b)

Ooo - I'll have to look into the NoCatalpa and Tulip Tree - those sound interesting. Thanks Katlian.
skiekitty - Size-wise, the tree can be pretty big - it's a large area and it is near the irrigation pond, so it could hang over the pond too. The more seasons of interest, the better. For example, we have several Bechtel crabapples which we love because they have beautiful blossoms in the spring, nice branch structure, and great fall color too.
dparsons - good thought about leaf coverage vs lawn. We're not entirely opposed to losing some of the lawn, however (we gotta lotta lawn), so that doesn't necessarily need to be a limiting factor.

Parker, CO(Zone 5b)

Snowline - OK, since you're not against size, go with the N. Catalpa. WONDERFUL tree, beautiful heart-shaped leaves, long-lasting flower, interesting seed pod (but not very mower-friendly). Tulip trees are also nice, but I like Catalpas better. But, they are slow growing and have odd shapes. You can also go with a red oak (nice fall foliage), PrarieFire crabapple (wonderful spring flowers), European Mountain Ash (nice white spring flowers, interesting orange berries that are attractive in the fall), Lindentree (wonderful pyramid shape, wonderfully fragrant), Golden Rain tree (summertime blossoms w/interesting "chinese lantern" seedpods), Golden Chain Tree (beautiful wisteria-like yellow flowers in spring), chancellor pear tree (beautiful spring flowers, gorgeous fall foliage, but very columnar in shape). You can also try a Purple Robe Locust tree (purple flowers in spring/fall), or a pansy forest redbud (a personal favorite, smaller, heart-shaped red leaves that stay red all year). Hawthorns are great trees that have awesome little berries in the fall and some have beautiful flowers that last forever - Crimson Cloud is my favorite. Of course, Canadian Red Chokecherry is an old staple with foliage that starts green & turns red and smells WONDERFUL for weeks on end in the spring. Also, I'd love to have a horse chestnut as they have spectacular flowers in the spring. Buckeyes have interesting fall fruits that are good for wild life. Autumn Purple Ash is wonderfully fast growing tree that has gorgeous fall foliage, but no flowers. An Accolade Elm is a very sturdy, very strong, "can't kill it" tree, but is good only for shade, no interesting features. Same goes for a Kentucky Coffee tree.. good for shade & interesting seeds, but no flowers or foliage to write home about.

Of all these trees, I have most of them personally. I have:
Swedish Columnar Aspen - do NOT advise to get, fast growing, but SHORT lifespan and horrible root system!
European Mountain Ash
Golden Rain Tree
Autumn Purple Ash
Prarie Fire Crabapple
Wate's Gold Pine
Crimson Cloud Hawthorn
Hillside Gold Pine
Autumn Serviceberry
Amur Flame Maple
Golden Chain Tree
"Hotwings" Tatariun Maple
Brandywine Maple
Chancellor Pear
Silver Maple - do NOT advise to get.. they are horribly fragile trees!! They tolerate a wide range of soils, FAST growing, but their limbs snap at the slightest snow!!
Coralburst Crabapple

This pic is of my catalpa that I had a few years ago before I killed it. I overwatered it and drowned the poor thing. :(

Thumbnail by skiekitty
Carson City, NV(Zone 6b)

A couple more trees to consider are Littleleaf Linden and Mulberry. I have a Linden near my front windows and the fragrance fills the house in the spring. The flowers aren't much to look at and the leaves don't have any fall color. Some people hate mulberry trees but in the right place they are nice for attracting wildlife. My inlaws have one in an unused pasture and the birds flock to it when the fruit is ripe. Theyare very messy when the fruit falls so you don't want it near anything that will stain (cars, walkways, etc)

So many choices!

Another thing to consider is the location relative to any structures or hardscaping. It's a good idea to keep certain kinds of trees, like maples and cottonwoods, away from concrete walls or walkways since the roots are shallow and tend to crack or heave pavement. Certain thirsty trees are also more likely to invade water or sewer lines.

Bend, OR(Zone 4b)

skiekitty and Katlian: You've given me lots to research - thank you!
We do have several trees that you've mentioned, and they are indeed wonderful. Catalpa, mulberry, and tulip tree are new to me, and sound like good possibilities. The location is way away from any structure, and is close to a big pond, so could support a "heavy drinker". We have lots of birds, squirrels, raccoons, and deer that we battle annually for fruit, so excess fruit would not be an issue. A couple of weekends ago, we had a freak early snowstorm that broke branches off of still-leafed out trees - big maples in particular - so branch strength would be a plus.

Bend, OR(Zone 4b)

skiekitty, you mentioned red oak - that also sounds interesting. It sounds like they grow pretty fast and have strong branches. Any Rocky Mountaineers out there who have one?

Parker, CO(Zone 5b)

Snowline - I'll be replacing my Swedish aspen with an oak. The two I'm thinking about are these:

Northern Red Oak Quercus rubra http://bailey.virtual-services.net/presslib/info/0353
Crimson Spire Oak Quercus robur x Q. alba 'Crimschmidt' http://www.jfschmidt.com/introductions/crimsonspire/index.html

More than likely I'll go with the later of the two as I have a very small, narrow front yard. But you don't have that problem. :) You can also look at the Pin Oak (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pin_oak)

*sigh* to have more space to plant more trees....


Albuquerque, NM(Zone 7b)

Nice Oak trees skiekitty.

Bend, OR(Zone 4b)

skiekitty - I'd never heard of a columnar oak before - wish i'd known about them before DH planted dozens of aspens whose suckers are now taking over our yard! I'll definitely keep the Crimson Spire in mind if we are ever in a position to replace the prolific aspens. :)
I had been considering a Pin Oak - they line the streets of our downtown and they are beautiful in fall color right now. I'm trying to decide if i will be able to handle the winter-long brown leaves - their fully-leafed branches had no problem with the recent load of snow, which is a plus. Thanks for all of the info and the links. I really appreciate it!

Parker, CO(Zone 5b)

This is ridiculously expensive, but it *does* work. And it's a lot safer than using RoundUp on the suckers.

SuckerStop
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B000H1P8SG/ref=asc_df_B000H1P8SG942752?smid=A2BUK7LXIJD4AN&tag=yahoommp-kitchen-mp01-20&linkCode=asn&creative=380341&creativeASIN=B000H1P8SG

I got rid of 2 aspens in my back yard for that same exact reason.. they were sending up dozens of suckers every year. I'd yank 'em all out, dig up the main roots, but they still kept coming back. I chopped down the trees all the way to the ground and the suckers have mostly stopped. My neighbors weren't too keen on my getting rid of the aspens, though.. oh well. They can plant their own. My columnar aspen in the front is a suckermachine.. I hate that danged thing! There's always 5,000,000,000 little suckers ALLLL over the yard.. GRR!! And they have the world's WORST root system... SOOOOO shallow. I'd REALLY love to get that gosh-darned tree out of my front yard! GAH!!

Albuquerque, NM(Zone 7b)

Aspens are well left to their groves out there in the mountains.

Parker, CO(Zone 5b)

Dparson - You got that right! I cringe whenever I go to Home Depot & see the Quaking Aspens in those little bitty buckets for like $10... mainly because I *know* that they're not going to make it! They need an altitude of at least 6000+, which few places here my Denver Metro hit and they need cooler temperatures, not 100+ in the summer! Leave the aspens in the high lands and plant more happier trees down here! Ugh!!! (just for the record, when I bought my house, the 3 aspens were already here, along with the silver maple. I did NOT plant any of them, nor would I. They just don't work for my area!)

Bend, OR(Zone 4b)

From Wikipedia:
"All of the aspens (including the White Poplar) typically grow in large clonal colonies derived from a single seedling, and spreading by means of root suckers; new stems in the colony may appear at up to 3040 meters from the parent tree. Each individual tree can live for 40150 years above ground, but the root system of the colony is long-lived. In some cases, this is for thousands of years, sending up new trunks as the older trunks die off above ground. For this reason it is considered to be an indicator of ancient woodlands. One such colony in Utah, given the nickname of "Pando", is claimed to be 80,000 years old, making it possibly the oldest living colony of aspens."
80,000 years old! Talk about perseverance!

Bend, OR(Zone 4b)

skiekitty - does this mean that i'd have to spray SuckerStop 30-40 meters from every aspen? Maybe I could rent a crop duster...

Helena, MT(Zone 4b)

FYI, I planted a crimson cloud hawthorn here in zone 4, and it made it through the winter in great shape.
These new trees also made it through the winter and are doing well:
Deborah maple
Freeman maple (Sienna Glen)
Highland poplar (in its 5th year)

And we have a very old very huge crabapple.

Since you mentioned catalpas, I should tell you that there are two in Helena, and one lost 1/3 of its branches last winter. Not a tree for zone 4.

Carson City, NV(Zone 6b)

Rose, before you plant a pin oak you should find out if your soil is acid or alkaline. Pin oaks hate alkaline soil and do very poorly in much of Nevada because of that. If your soil comes from volcanic sources (common around Bend) it's more likely to be acidic.

Parker, CO(Zone 5b)

Picante - Poplars are just as evil as aspens & cottonwoods (well, they're all related). can't stand 'em, but that's my opinion. :) However, I *do* love my Crimson Cloud hawthorn! The red flowers are SOOO unusual and beautiful!

Albuquerque, NM(Zone 7b)

And I get flack about calling thorny plants Evil ...

Parker, CO(Zone 5b)

DParsons - Most "thorny" plants don't sucker & try to take over a yard, are almost impossible to kill, stink to high heaven when burned so don't make good firewood, and are on lots and lots of "banned trees" list. In my little town, I live in the Cottonwood district.. and cottonwoods are a no-no by the city and practically by the state, too!

Besides, this is Cybele. Because she's so Evil. (pronounced see-bul)

Thumbnail by skiekitty
Ennis, MT(Zone 4a)

Cybele looks like quite the mischief maker.

Albuquerque, NM(Zone 7b)

I think Cybele likes to be evil.

I'm just joking with some of the RM members who have given me flack about calling certain plants evil because of undesirable features (thorns). I have been in Aspen groves, though, and know that they are michevious.

Parker, CO(Zone 5b)

Here's my crimson cloud hawthorn. It's a thornless variety. It's a little spindly as this was it's first full year in the ground for me. I got lucky & found it Home Depot last year for $40! :)

Thumbnail by skiekitty
Albuquerque, NM(Zone 7b)

It look similar in spindliness to the Chinese Pistache I have.

Bend, OR(Zone 4b)

I love hawthorns in bloom - one of my favorites. We planted a hawthorn in a primo spot a few years ago, and the top half succumbed to fire blight. :( It was "planted" in the compost pile, where it appears to be thriving in its flat-top form.
Katlian, Our soil is volcanic with an layer of forest compost on top - our valley was logged in the early 1900s - so a pin oak should do quite well. And a local nursery has some really big ones for sale. I'm going back and forth about whether I will like or hate looking at a tree full of brown leaves all winter. That's really its only drawback, from my perspective.
And I agree, Cybele has a mischevious glint in her eye - I bet she's quite a character. Does she "help" you type on your computer? My cats do. :)

Helena, MT(Zone 4b)

skiekitty, I once picked some horsetail while visiting Bellingham, put it in a floral arrangement, and was informed by my host of its evil nature. It grew through the floor of someone's house she knew!

If I planted it here, it would not grow. "Evil" is very location specific. Creeping bellflower is evil here, but certainly not aspens and cottonwoods and poplars.

Cottonwoods are native here. They are one of 3 deciduous native trees in the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem. When you've got precious few species of trees, they are all valued.

P.S. I once knew a kitty named Sid Vicious, looked about as evil as yours.

Parker, CO(Zone 5b)

SnowLine - if you're wanting something along the red leaves line, you can also look at a SweetGum tree. Should work fine for your area and you don't have to worry about it not losing it's leaves for the winter. I konw that they do well here, so they should do well in your area, too. :)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liquidambar_styraciflua

Sorry, been thinking about what kind of trees could I plant if I had your area. I'm used to the limitations of zonal requirements & altitude as I sit at 5700ft and am a zone 5 as well.

Another tree that I *did* have, but I had to transplant it and then we had an extreme cold-snap and it didn't like that at all is the Tri-Color Beech. Spectacular tree that I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to get again if I had the space.. however, it's VERY slow growing. Likes shade, too! But, it's also ridiculously hard to find and VERY expensive. :(

Here's mine before I killed it. :( Boy, I seem like a tree-killer on this thread, don't I. :)


This message was edited Oct 22, 2009 4:28 PM

Parker, CO(Zone 5b)

grrr.. couldn't add the picture after I edited my post.

Anyways, here's my tri-color. This is true-to-color for the spring & early summer. The pink fades out a bit in hot summers and then turns a brilliant red in the fall. Never goes 100% green. Like I said, I'd love to get another one if they were $300 for a 2" caliper tree. :(

Thumbnail by skiekitty
Bend, OR(Zone 4b)

Cool tri-color, skiekitty - I can see why you want another one. I am excited to hear that Liquidambar does well in your area. We had a row of them lining the street where I grew up in Calif, and I love-love-loved them! I wasn't sure they would make it here in the high desert, but if they thrive in CO, that's really good news.
I've also been thinking about maybe adding to our "collection" of crabapple trees, although they wouldn't really get as large as our 'specimen' spot would allow. Has anyone out there had any luck with vars 'Adams' or 'Robinson'?

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