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Tough Trees

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Underutilized Trees You Should Consider Planting

Life in the landscape is tough for a tree.

A tree is faced with competition from other plants, sometimes plants foreign to its indigenous environment. It is forced to coexist with buildings that may project reflective rays and wide temperature fluctuations. Worst of all, the vital soil in which it lives has often been disturbed and deprived of helpful organisms. In many cases, the soil is heavily compacted.

Successful landscaping involves not only taking steps to improve the environment, but also utilizing plants with tough constitutions, plants that have proven their worth in difficult growing conditions. Most of these plants have been tested in their native environments and have grown where most other plants would have simply curled up their root tips and died. Foresters refer to these plants as 'poor site indicators.' Most of these plants have limited commercial value but are excellent choices for the less-than-ideal situations found in disrupted environments.

So here are some choices that will stand a much better chance of not only surviving but also thriving in those almost impossible growing environments...

Woodlawn trees are available in various root size containers, 10 gal. – 280 gal. Not all trees are available in each size. Please contact us for specific information on a tree of interest.

Scientific Name: Quercus bicolor
Bold. Durable. And magnificent! In many ways, Swamp White Oak, or Quercus bicolor, growing 50'-60' tall with a spread of the same size, is a very similar tree to White Oak. They share the sa...
Scientific Name: Pinus aristata
Bristlecone Pine, or Pinus aristata, is a native of the western United States. Extremely slow-growing, this dwarf, shrubby tree makes an excellent choice either for rock gardens or as a foun...

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The foliage is attractive during the growing season, the yellow fall color can be quite nice, and the reddish bark adds to the ornamental appeal during the dormant season. But without question, spring is the high point for the Eastern Redbud. Brilliant, purple-pink flowers in profusion create a party atmosphere that begins in early to mid April and persists for as long as four weeks.

The name Redbud is a misnomer. Neither the buds nor the flowers are red.

In the last ten years, the cultivars have multiplied. Weeping forms and cultivars with foliage sporting shades of purple, yellow, orange and variegated white have taken the market by storm. They can't even let the flowers alone; there's a cultivar with white flowers. (What do you call that? A whitebud?) While some of these forms are exciting and eye-catching in the formal landscape, the species is a great tree that may blend more naturally in the garden.

We also grow 'Avondale,' which is a cultivar of the Chinese Redbud. Chinese Redbud is even more gaudy than our native Redbud with rich pink flowers in profusion, covering not only the ends of the branches but also the stems.

Scientific Name: Metasequoia glyptostroboides
Gentle Grandeur Soft foliage.
Insect and disease resistance.
Fluted trunk and lovely bark.
Fast growth.
Burnt-orange fall color.
Storm-damage resistance.
An all...
Scientific Name: Cotinus obovatus
American Smoketree, or Cotinus obovatus, is an ornamental plant in its own right. A tough tree, it grows naturally in rocky outcroppings in the lower Midwest. The flowers are insignificant,...
Scientific Name: Picea orientalis 'Gowdy
Selected from the graceful Oriental Spruce, 'Gowdy' is, unsurprisingly, a first-rate ornamental. Three characteristics separate the Gowdy Oriental Spruce, or Picea orientalis 'Gowdy', from t...
Scientific Name: Calycanthus floridus
Unassuming. Comfortable. Attractive. Somehow Sweetshrub, or Calycanthus floridus, fits anywhere: next to the stone wall, along the border to the patio, or as a foundation plant. In the scurr...

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Nyssa sylvatica

They're tough and durable. They can thrive in poorly drained soils as well as dry uplands. Soil compaction? Not a problem. Black Tupelo is not only a dogged performer but also a beautiful addition to almost any landscape. The most outstanding feature is the foliage: glossy, dark green in the summer changing to a stunning array of orange and red hues in the fall. Another attractive feature is the horizontal branching which, with a little creative placement, can make an appealing statement in the dormant season.

The longevity of Black Tupelos are remarkable. There are living specimens that are hundreds of years old.

Black Tupelo, as a species, is a great tree in it's own right, but cultivars have been gradually developed in the last 20 years, producing even more trees that lend the perfect touch. But if you're looking for a natural and informal addition to your garden, the species is still best. The cultivars work best in formal landscapes such as specimens and Allee's.

Scientific Name: Nyssa sylvatica 'Wildfire'
Black Tupelo is a beautiful native landscape tree known for its exceptional fall color. The cultivar Black Tupelo 'Wildfire' offers an exciting addition with its reddish new growth adding sp...