memorial trees

jennbenn(z7b)January 16, 2007

Hi all,

I am looking for suggestions for trees, smaller in size that would be appropriate for a memorial to my brother who died an unfortunate death at the age of 29. He died on Dec 10th, cause is still unknown. However, I want to purchase a tree for my mother to plant in his honor. She has had a few other offers from co-workers and whatnot, offering to purchase trees in his memory as well. My first thought was paperbark maple, for the wonderful fall foliage, and bark.

I think though, they would like something with pretty spring blooms. I also was thinking of the Star Magnolia. I have always loved that tree for its wonderful early blooms. So pretty, but what else would be good? Dogwood, cherry, ornamental peach?? I just don't want any weak trees, prone to early demise... not good for a memorial tree. Also, this would be planted at their vacation/retirement home, so watering would be only every 2 weeks or so in the heat of summer. Thanks for any ideas!


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Star magnolias are beautiful, but are very sensitive to late frosts. I had two of them at my previous home and about every other year - frost would blacken the blooms. At my present home, I have a saucer magnolia (purple blooms) and have found it to be less cold sensitive. Out of 8 springs, it has only had damage to the blooms twice. And even then, the tree was in bloom for a week before frost.

If you like dogwoods, I would recommend that you consider one of the Kousa varities which are less sensitive to the diseases which are killing many of our local dogwoods. The Kousa bloom slightly later and have a more pointed petal shape on the blooms.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2007 at 2:04PM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

Trees in the Prunus genus (plums, cherries, peaches, apricots and almonds) are some of the most disease prone types of trees. Disease resistant varieties are available, but you have to do the research.

Discula destructiva (Dogwood Anthracnose) is a problem with Cornus florida (Flowering Dogwood), but disease resistant varities are available. Cornus florida 'Appalachian Spring' is a commonly available example of a resistant variety. Check out the dogwood research at UT and elsewhere if interested.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2007 at 12:11AM
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anntn6b(z6b TN)

I'm so sorry for your loss.
Before you buy a tree, please check with the cemetery to see what kind of plantings are allowed.
Where my parents are, only boxwoods are allowed.


    Bookmark   January 17, 2007 at 11:55PM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

Ann, it's going to be "planted at their vacation/retirement home".

    Bookmark   January 18, 2007 at 6:49PM
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anntn6b(z6b TN)

Thanks, Brandon for reading more closely than I did.

Someone nearby planted a blue spruce and a hemlock in memory of lost loved ones. They look good year round. The advantage of the softwoods is that there's no leaf drop in fall, which can be really sad.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2007 at 8:42PM
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Thank you everyone for your response! I will take all into consideration, and the idea of an evergreen is very good. I hope to look further into the dogwood 'Appalachian Spring', the paperbark maple, and an evergreen. They can be finicky here though, it is so hot in the summer and so wet in the fall/winter. Also need to see how big the Saucer Magnolia gets. I will keep thinking on it.
Thank you everyone!

    Bookmark   January 19, 2007 at 11:43AM
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Jenn I bought a dogwood for one of my customers last year. We were out there doing a roof job and they told me about losing their son who was a sailor in Desert Storm. They wanted a memorial tree that was native to Tennessee and asked my opinion so that was my suggestion. As soon as they decided on the variety they wanted I went out and got it for them and surprised them with it. That's the best money I've spent in years! I'm so sorry to hear of your brothers passing. You and your family have our thoughts and prayers.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2007 at 4:41PM
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katiedidcottage(z7 TN / Chattanooga)

Maybe a native evergreen, if you could find one. I heard about a native spruce pine, but haven't found one yet. I've also seen some beautiful evergreens thriving in the Memphis area even though it gets HOT there and stays that way.

I think dogwoods require the work of spraying for diseases. I've seen some rather large ones die from disease that is common.


    Bookmark   January 29, 2007 at 4:03PM
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mechele211(TN 6b)

Jenn, a flowering cherry would be a beautiful choice and in some communities they are popular as memorial trees. Where I live they are often used as parking lot trees in shopping centers so there must be easy care varieties. My own are too small for me to have much first hand experience, I only rooted them last summer. However, if your folks aren't at this house much, they could miss the flowers of a spring blooming tree and that would be a shame. A good smallish evergreen tree might be a Little Gem magnolia.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2007 at 11:56PM
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