Are there any Ornamental Trees (i.e. 20 feet and less) that are not problematic in the landscape (besides crape myrtles)?


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I am planning some additional trees in my yard (to include another crape myrtle). But I want a different type of tree to compliment the crape(s) and something that would bloom in the Spring.

But it seems every time I start researching other ornamental trees, I learn about problems to include fungus problems and other issues that tend to kill many of these trees off within 15 to 20 years. At one point (in my research), I thought (perhaps) a dogwood would be a good "robust" tree. But the native dogwood (native to North America) also known as the Cornus Florida, is now reportedly dying off in large numbers in the US and is also a slow grower. I've read about other ornamentals to include cherry trees, redbuds, etc. Many of them appear to be great trees. But then, you read a bit further and start learning about so many pests and diseases that plague these trees.

Preferably, I would like an ornamental tree that does not have so many issues (i.e. fungus problems, short lifespan, and not a tree that requires so much pampering. And ideally, I would also like a tree that is at least a moderate grower. Can anyone offer suggestions?

I have realized that in the ornamental tree category, there seems to be no equal to the Crape Myrtle tree! It's so tough, has a long lifespan, and appears to be very resistant to so many pests and diseases. No doubt, that is why it's so popular in the southeast and southwestern regions of the US where it thrives!

Thanks for any feedback here on good/companion trees for the crapes that offer blooms in the Spring.

PS this is a separate post from a question I've got about a Crape Myrtle.

 
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There are many Spring-blooming trees that you could plant. Beside Dogwoods (Cornus), you might consider Redbuds (Cercis), Ornamental Cherries & Plums (Prunus), Crabapples (Malus), Hawthorns (Crataegus), and Pears (Pyrus). Other options include Deciduous Magnolia (Magnolia), Snowbell Trees (Styrax), Stewartia (Stewartia), Empress Tree (Paulownia), and Black Locust (Robinia pseudoacacia), etc. etc.

The list could go on and on, I only listed deciduous species but there are also evergreen trees with Spring bloom, such as Large Rhododendron or Camellia reticulata.

One cannot fully predict the future, but if a chosen tree is planted in the right location (sun, soil, climate, etc) and then proper subsequent care is provided, there is no need to be pessimistic about the outcome.

Besides
 
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Out of the ones you mentioned (or others), is there a couple that you might recommend in well drained clay soil in the southeast? Most importantly, one or two that "might" be a bit more "robust" than some of the others?

I really like the looks of some of the redbuds, but I keep reading that they don't live long. The cherry trees are beautiful trees, but one thing that stood out in my mind (reading) was this tree being disease prone and the continuous need to inspect them and treat accordingly.

As you say, no one can predict the future; and I also don't want to be pessimistic. At the same time, since I am flexible on the ornamental tree choice (to go along with crape myrtle(s), I really would prefer a Spring bloomer that might be considered a bit more robust in my region and climate, and perhaps no more than 20 feet tall.
 
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Red maple
Oh, I've got some Red maples. Great tree for the landscape and very popular too!

But I was inquiring more about small ornamentals for other locations in the yard. I am referring to trees that bloom bright colors in the Spring and that are on the smaller side (i.e. perhaps 20 feet height or less).

This is where it seems to get a bit tricky to find one(s) that are tough (like the crape myrtles). Perhaps (with the smaller varieties) in ornamentals, there is no comparison to the crape myrtle. But I'd still like to identify the ones that tend to be more robust.
 
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If well-grown all the trees mentioned could be expected to live much longer than twenty years, though twenty years is a long time the way some modern gardens or managed. In twenty years, you, yourself may want the tree gone, or the new owner after you... I often wish more people would accept the specimen plants they buy or inherit with a house. It is such a jarring discontinuity with the past and a waste of time, money, and effort to take out fine, healthy plants due to an excess of caprice and willfulness... but I digress.

You also mention that you want the tree to top off at around 20 feet, though in truth few trees ever completely top off at a certain height. Instead, their growth just slows to the point that it becomes inconsequential. To pick a tree that truly will get no taller than 20 feet means you will wait many years or more with a tree significantly less than that. Of course, some pruning, (thinning cuts please, not hedging or pollarding) will also help keep a smaller tree sized and shaped as desired.

Some small Spring-flowering trees I would recommend for full sun, in well-drained clay would include.
If planting on flat ground, mound up a foot or so to keep the root crown high. Also mulch well under the tree. Avoid both bare soil and grass up to the trunk,

• Crabapples (Malus spp. and hybrids)
• Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis)
• Saucer Magnolia (Magnolia x soulangeana, or similar hybrds)
 
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If you go with the Crab apple, look for the one that has the yellow, its light yellow berries on it, The description says that in the moonlight they glow, or bounce the moon light off of them. It has been on my list, but just can't figure a decent spot yet.
 
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We've had this sorbus at the bottom of our garden next to the pagoda for at least 30 years.
It was about six feet tall when we bought it, I guess it's only just over twice that now, so slow growing.


P1050177.JPG


It has small blossoms in the spring and bright pink berries in the autumn. The leaves are quite delicate.
It's not an "in your face" sort of tree. Tends to go unnoticed by visitors.

P1030299.JPG



P1030301.JPG
 
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If you go with the Crab apple, look for the one that has the yellow, its light yellow berries on it, The description says that in the moonlight they glow, or bounce the moon light off of them. It has been on my list, but just can't figure a decent spot yet.

When I was growing up, we had neighbors that had a couple of mature crab apples in their front yard. Beautiful looking trees in the Spring. Oddly enough, it seems a good many local garden shops in my area aren't carrying them so much these days. At least not here in my area of the southeastern US. I am unsure why. I do see them available for order online.
 
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We've had this sorbus at the bottom of our garden next to the pagoda for at least 30 years.
It was about six feet tall when we bought it, I guess it's only just over twice that now, so slow growing.


View attachment 86727

It has small blossoms in the spring and bright pink berries in the autumn. The leaves are quite delicate.
It's not an "in your face" sort of tree. Tends to go unnoticed by visitors.

View attachment 86728


View attachment 86729
 
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We've had this sorbus at the bottom of our garden next to the pagoda for at least 30 years.
It was about six feet tall when we bought it, I guess it's only just over twice that now, so slow growing.


View attachment 86727

It has small blossoms in the spring and bright pink berries in the autumn. The leaves are quite delicate.
It's not an "in your face" sort of tree. Tends to go unnoticed by visitors.

View attachment 86728


View attachment 86729
Thanks for sharing your pictures. You've got a beautiful looking yard!

I also noticed the homes in the background. It looks like typical British architecture; and I see you live in the UK.
 
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Thanks for sharing your pictures. You've got a beautiful looking yard!

I also noticed the homes in the background. It looks like typical British architecture; and I see you live in the UK.

Thanks for that.
We live in a suburb in south Manchester, in the Mersey Valley. We're ten minutes from Manchester United's football ground to the north and the same amount of time from open countryside to the south.
Our garden is only 85ft long and is less than 2000 sq ft. But we've packed a lot in. All the hard landscaping and building work I did myself.

Until three years ago the middle patio was a 3000 gall koi pool I built by myself in 1986. But I closed it down and had itr filled in and paved over as it developed a serious and the liner would have been hard to change.

Here's a tour.

 
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I don't know about the climate where you are, but at our old house in E Sussex UK we had a prunus autumnalis. There were never any disease problems with it and it was a beautiful and graceful tree, with the added bonus of blooming in mid-winter (Not Autumn like the name would suggest) when everything else was shut down. The soil was Weald clay, but on a slope so well drained, sounds a bit like yours.
 
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Just saw an awesome witchhazel in my garden magazine, says its fragrant. its yellow with deep orange center, blooms in November. Just don't have a spot yet. Have to make a new spot if I want it.
 
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I bought a rising sun last year and hope to see it look like this in the spring. Foilage not flowers yet the same effect as flowers for my yard. View attachment 86746
Funny you should post this picture because I was just looking at a picture of it the other day. The Rising Sun Redbud is very unique, for sure! And I am considering purchasing it and planting in my back yard (outside my bedroom window). Of course, it's a tree that stays small and fits anywhere.
 
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Thanks for that.
We live in a suburb in south Manchester, in the Mersey Valley. We're ten minutes from Manchester United's football ground to the north and the same amount of time from open countryside to the south.
Our garden is only 85ft long and is less than 2000 sq ft. But we've packed a lot in. All the hard landscaping and building work I did myself.

Until three years ago the middle patio was a 3000 gall koi pool I built by myself in 1986. But I closed it down and had itr filled in and paved over as it developed a serious and the liner would have been hard to change.

Here's a tour.

Yes, I think I need someone like you to design a garden at my house. My home is new construction on a piece of land that had no trees or any landscaping whatsoever. So just trying to get started with it, more so this coming Spring. Right now, all I've got are a couple of Red Maple trees and one Crepe Myrtle.

Thanks to the Jet Stream, I think you guys get plenty of rain and moderate temperatures year-round in England, especially at your northern latitude (perhaps Scotland being more of the exception to those moderate temps). So, I am sure your garden thrives.

Here in the southeastern US, our summers are very hot and humid. And even though we get more rain than out west, I think our peak temperatures in summer stress a lot of plants to the max, unless they are well taken care of. I do have an old friend who has a garden that seems to thrive (a little bit like yours). But it's under a canopy of large trees - and I think that makes a big difference, especially in this climate.

This is why Crepe Myrtle trees are so popular in the southern US. They are heat tolerate down to around 0 Fahrenheit or (I think) about -17 Celsius while at the same time thriving in our long, hot summers, without the stress factors of so many other plants. But landscaping with Crepe Myrtles "only" (along with standard shrubs that many folks plant next to their home in the front of the home), could be considered boring by many who are into (or getting into) landscaping and gardening.
 
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Yes, I think I need someone like you to design a garden at my house. My home is new construction on a piece of land that had no trees or any landscaping whatsoever. So just trying to get started with it, more so this coming Spring. Right now, all I've got are a couple of Red Maple trees and one Crepe Myrtle.

Thanks to the Jet Stream, I think you guys get plenty of rain and moderate temperatures year-round in England, especially at your northern latitude (perhaps Scotland being more of the exception to those moderate temps). So, I am sure your garden thrives.

Here in the southeastern US, our summers are very hot and humid. And even though we get more rain than out west, I think our peak temperatures in summer stress a lot of plants to the max, unless they are well taken care of. I do have an old friend who has a garden that seems to thrive (a little bit like yours). But it's under a canopy of large trees - and I think that makes a big difference, especially in this climate.

This is why Crepe Myrtle trees are so popular in the southern US. They are heat tolerate down to around 0 Fahrenheit or (I think) about -17 Celsius while at the same time thriving in our long, hot summers, without the stress factors of so many other plants. But landscaping with Crepe Myrtles "only" (along with standard shrubs that many folks plant next to their home in the front of the home), could be considered boring by many who are into (or getting into) landscaping and gardening.

Yes we get a fairly mild climate.

That's why for "location" under my avatar I have "The Tropic of Trafford."
We are surrounded by hills on three sides, which keeps us reasonably well protected, we haven't had snow of any significance for ten years.
 
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I just got 3 Fuyu whips in the mail. Nice. I forgot I ordered them. Merry Christmas to me! I love the big orange persimmons on the bare tree this time of year.
 
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