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Friday, February 03, 2006

Small Tree Favorites

Consider your space conditions: Is it sunny or shady? Is there ample root space, or is it heavily trafficked? Be sure to select a dwarf tree that provides interest for longer than a single season. Preferably it will include both good summer bloom and exceptional winter form, or interesting spring and summer foliage with excellent fall color and fruiting.

Three favorites:

Acer griseum (a.k.a. paperbark maple). Native to central China, it grows very slowly to just under 30 feet in both height and width. It is an oval tree that prefers full sun; hardy to Zone 5A.

Pyrus salicifolia 'Pendula', a relative of the pear tree, bears two-inch fruits, though they are inedible. Native to Asia Minor, 'Pendula' grows very slowly to a height of about 15 feet. Hardy to Zone 4A, this tree prefers full sun for the best foliage color.

Betula nigra 'Fox Valley' (a.k.a. 'Little King') has dark-green leaves in summer that change to soft yellow in fall. A quick-growing native dwarf cultivar of the brown-barked river birch, it grows to about 10 feet. Hardy to Zones 4/3B; will tolerate light shade.


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