The secret to any landscape design is plants and trees. Sure, the hardscape is essential, but what will make your yard standout above the rest are plant and tree selections. Flowering trees add a focal point/s (or three—here is an ancient Chinese secret via a vis Feng Shui—always plant in odd numbers whenever possible). If you have an even number of flowering trees, and even if you don’t, choose different colors. Flowering trees bring beauty, color, wildlife, and (if you like) shade to your yard. Flowering trees are among the most prized possessions of any yard and make a bold statement. Trees serve to form the skeletal outline of any landscape and if strategically placed make all the difference. When planting you want a variation of color, texture, leaf foliage, deciduous and non-deciduous, distinctive groupings (odd numbers) and differences in height. This is where trees come in handy, particularly flowering trees, which not only vary in color, they vary in height. They offer a zest few other plants and trees match and are a great choice for your garden.
Flowering trees serve as accent points in your landscape, have eye-catching flowers and their seasonal fragrance are a wonderful sign spring is own the way. The larger ones like the magnolia, the Jacaranda and the Aristocrat Pear provide an alluring appearance that few shade trees can match. While you have the choice between fruit bearing flower trees, like cherries or cherry plums and non-bearing fruit trees like the flowering plum, many have exquisite fruit that’s edible and attractive to birds and animals alike. Select the right variety and number of flowering trees for your landscape—they will be a part of your landscape for many years to come.
Purple-Leaf Plum (Krauter Vesuvius)
This is very popular in the East Bay and probably the most requested tree for Jefferson Landscape and Design to install. This non-bearing fruit tree is a low maintenance ornamental tree (like all flowering fruit trees whether they bear fruit or not, they’re deciduous and lose their leaves when they bloom). They require little pruning, making it desirable for both landscapers and homeowners. Purple-leaf plum trees, also called cherry plum trees or flowering plum trees, add interest to your yard with dark red to purple foliage and abundance of white to light pink spring blossoms. Purple-leaf plums are medium-sized, cultivar (a tree that has been produced in cultivation by selective breeding) that typically grows in full sun as a dense, upright-rounded tree to 15-20' tall. Foliage retains excellent color throughout the growing season.
Star Magnolia (Magnolia Stellate) and the Little Gem
With showy, fragrant flowers, dark green leaves, and striking gray bark, this hardy magnolia is a real standout. The star magnolia grows to a height of 15–20' and a spread of 10–15' at maturity. It is an early bloomer with large, fragrant, white, double flowers appearing before the foliage emerges in spring and is deciduous. It’s a thriller that will add a nice touch to the landscape as the seasons progress. Like the Crape Myrtle, the Magnolia can also be grown as a multi-trunked large shrub. As far as Magnolias go, the Star Magnolia has excellent cold and heat tolerance. Few trees are as charming as the little Star Magnolia. Plant up close where you can enjoy its elegant but large flowers. Its roots will spread but they’re considered non-invasive and it’s an excellent choice for enjoying under the moonlight and for all-white gardens. We’re told it’s a traditional candidate in the Asian garden, where individuals are carefully pruned. However, it’s equally at home in old-fashioned cottage gardens. A perfect choice for courtyards and entry courts, town-house and condominium gardens.
Another great flowering tree, and one that will provide you with plenty of shade, the Jacaranda tree is an outstanding choice for your California property. Jacaranda means “fragrant”, which is just one of the reasons it’s one of Jefferson Landscape and Design’s favorite flowering trees.
Magnificent displays of purple-blue, fragrant panicles cover the canopy of the Jacaranda tree in late spring. After leaves emerge, a second bloom can sometimes be seen, but in fewer numbers.
Jacaranda trees can reach 30-45 ft in height and width. You’ll need some space and a knowledgeable landscape designer to determine the perfect spot for this one. Their flowers create a beautiful purple-blue carpet along the ground after their blossoms fall. Make sure to keep these trees away from swimming pools or other objects difficult to clean. Jacarandas love sunny spots with well-drained, fertile soil. Their stunning color and an amazing fragrance make the Jacaranda one of the best flowering trees there is.
Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus Syriacus)
Though it is usually classified as a large flowering shrub, the Rose of Sharon is used by most homeowners and landscape contractors as a small flowering tree for patios. Either way it’s a perfect patio tree and one of Jefferson Landscape and Design’s favorite! When it’s grown under the right conditions with the proper care, the Rose of Sharon is a small tree that at its best can grow about 12 feet with a spread of about 10 feet—it doesn’t usually get this big. It blooms for a long time: from June until October. Plant this flowering tree to complement those that bloom in spring and early summer. Rose of Sharon can also be used as taller hedges, for foundation plantings or grouped in large numbers in shrub borders. Its colors vary: lavender, red, white, bluish, or pink. Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade. Soil Needs: Any type of soil mixed with organic fertilizer. As with any tree, be sure to plant properly in a hole 1.5 times the width of its root ball.
Crape Myrtles (Lagerstroemia)
Another one of the best (and in the Bay Area, very popular) flowering trees is the Crape Myrtle. This flowering tree is an extremely versatile choice. Varieties range in size from shrub-like cultivars of only three to five feet to lion-tail-shaped trees of 15-25 ft. in height.
Abundant blooms persist for several weeks during the summer months. The Crape Myrtles can offer flowers in varying whites, purples, pinks, and reds. However, the Crape Myrtle’s beauty isn’t limited to its blooms. These flowering trees also provide great fall interest with brightly changing foliage and a unique, year-round display of their colored, mottled trunk bark.
Crape Myrtles are undoubtedly one of the best flowering trees for parking strips and smaller yards. The downside? Almost every other house has at least one.
Aristocrat Pear (Pyrus Calleryana)
Before this species of flowering pear tree made it to America, it was brought to Europe from China. It requires a lot of space and is a favorite for parks and lawns. If you only do one tree and have the space, do this one. It’s light green, almost leathery leaves are rounded with a pointed tip and become an amazing property feature when changing to a deep crimson in fall. This is one of the best flowering trees due to its early bloom time and amazing autumn foliage color.
The Aristocrat Pear quickly grows 35 to 45 feet high and 30 to 35 feet wide, with widely-spaced, upright-spreading, thornless branches. The more dominant trunk and open form of make it less susceptible to wind and damage than the closely related Bradford. The branches are well attached to the trunk. In spring before the new leaves unfold, the tree puts on a brilliant display of pure white flowers. The leaves emerge as red/purple, then become 1.5 to 3 inches long, glossy green with wavy margins and a red blush. They turn red again in fall before dropping. The small, pea-sized, red/brown fruits which form are quite attractive to birds and other wildlife.