The Blank Spot

Posted by Growing Solutions

After hurricanes Irene and Sandy not to mention the ‘arbor-geddon’ of the October snow storm. We found we had great blank spots in the gardens of Newtown, Ridgefield, Wilton and many other Connecticut towns.   It was May after Sandy, and the arborists were still at work taking down trees and picking up branches. With the old trees gone we were left with the question, ‘What to put in that blank spot?’


Going to the nursery to select new trees can be overwhelming, there are so many choices. We tend to fall back on the trees we know, the weeping cherry or the flowering pear.   Past year’s storms have taught us a few things about the characteristics of trees we want on our properties.

Trees with weak wood or branch arrangements such as the flowering pear and weeping cherry can be destroyed in storms. Large trees can cause serious damage when they fall or lose large branches. If planting near your home or power lines smaller trees are a good choice. We still want trees with showy flowers in the spring; several good choices are the Dogwoods, Eastern Red Bud or Service Berry trees all are fine native trees.

The Pagoda Dogwood, Cornus alternifolia, unlike the more common Florida Dogwood, has healthy foliage. It is not susceptible to a fungal disease, anthracnose, that plaques the Florida Dogwood.   The Eastern Red Bud, Cercis canadensis, with its bright pink flowers and heart shaped leaves is an super choice for a front of the house tree. The variety or cultivar ‘Forest Pansy’ has burgundy colored leaves for good foliage color all season. The Service Berry, Amelanchier arborea, has white flowers in spring, and berries for the birds in June, followed by excellent fall color. These three trees grow to only 25’ in height, perfect for that ‘blank spot’.

For even smaller trees for tight spaces, or to fill those blank spots in front of larger trees try these three.

How many trees in your garden flower in February? The Witch Hazel does. Hamamelis vernalis, has a bright yellow, fragrant flower on a lovely small tree, grows to 15’ high. It even blooms when snow is on the ground.   How about a summer flowering tree, when the show is over in spring look forward to seeing the American Snowbell in flower. Sytrax americanus, is only 15’ high and 10’ wide, with bell shaped white flowers, blooming in summer with berries in fall. Speaking of berries, Nannyberry, Viburnum Lentago has a white flower, which turns into pink, blue and black berries in the fall. It grows to about 20’ and has multiple trunks.

The time to fill in those blank spots is right now, spring is an excellent time to plant these trees as is fall when the weather turns cooler and we have reliable rain. Make sure you water your new trees throughout the summer and into the fall. They’ll reward you next spring when you are no longer looking at those blank spots.


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