Photo Credit: Photo by John M. Seitz
There are several beautiful and underused trees in the American landscape. Rather than buying what all of your neighbors have, why not try one of my three favorites? They will add unique beauty and value to your garden for years to come.
Robinia (false Acacia)
The specimen I use in my garden is Robinia pseudocacia "Frisia." It is a large upright tree with very slender branches. The leaves are pendulous (like wisteria) and have beautiful and aromatic pea-like flowers in June. But even when not in bloom, the fragile yellow swaying leaves are enough to stop you in your tracks and think, "I want five of those in my yard". It is a quick grower and looks beautiful in groupings. It grows in practically all soils; the more sun it gets, the more yellow the leaves become. It will need to be kept pruned in order to maintain a steady growth. It can grow as tall as 60 feet.
In Great Britain, these trees grow in abundance. The ones I have selected to form an allee in my own garden is Tilia cordata (little leafed linden). The lindens have heart-shaped leaves that blossom in early spring and stay in full bloom through autumn. Aromatic, petite flowers appear during the summer and are later replaced by pea-like fruits. The tilias do well in moist, well-drained soil. They can handle sun or semishade. I first fell in love with these trees when I saw them adorning Sissinghurst's Lime walkway in England.
Catalpa (Indian bean tree)
If you want to give your garden a more tropical look, then the Catalpa tree might be perfect for you. The leaves are quite large, softly textured and heart shaped. Summer-blooming flowers are followed in the fall by long, slim pods. Catalpas are capable of thriving in both city and suburban sites. They are not fussy about the soil. They do well in any moist, well-drained soil in partial shade or sun. The specimen I us in my own backyard is Catalpa bignoides "Aurea." It is yellow-leaved and a slow grower.