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Tree decision????

Posted by scott24 Portland OR (My Page) on
Sat, Jun 6, 09 at 0:20

My staff would like to plant a tree for my retirement. The bonus is that space is not an issue, as we have lots of room where we are located. We get lots of sun throughout the day. They are asking me for my favorite. I like dogwoods, but know very little about the hundreds of others out there. I don't think that it should be fruit bearing, but just a down right good looking tree. Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks in advance!


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Tree decision????

Our native dogwood is lovely, but I don't know if it likes full sun, I usually see it mingled with bigger trees. I like weeping katsura for a full sun tree.


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RE: Tree decision????

  • Posted by bboy z8 WA USA (My Page) on
    Sat, Jun 6, 09 at 0:58

A watered lawn on a business campus? Or a more spartan situation?


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RE: Tree decision????

To 'bboy' the business is an alternative school and we are on a huge campus with greenhouses, a few buildings(small) and mostly room to plant lots of stuff. Our local college and public schools have programs that are involved with great projects. So very little concrete and sidewalks, mucho good green earth.


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RE: Tree decision????

  • Posted by bboy z8 WA USA (My Page) on
    Sat, Jun 6, 09 at 22:27

If there is a spot with moist and fertile soil, that will be kept irrigated indefinitely then a Kousa would probably suit. People are planting these to excess up here but if you like dogwoods and it will be kept watered then this is one of the better kinds for ornamental use.

Best that one with white bracts be used because pink ones ('Satomi' especially) may have disease problems.


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RE: Tree decision????

Why not something really enjoyable close-up and from a distance ... pretty big and color ...

Black tupelo - as nice a leaf as beech and has a fall color that may rival sweet gum. Excellent form.

Purple beech - I have 3 of them myself.

Tricolor beech

Scarlet oak (not pin oak)

Chitalpa if you can find one. Not Catalpa, but Chitalpa. Pretty easy to find in southern Oregon - not sure where to get up here. Bloom late summer.

Don't get me wrong on this, but dogwood and Japanese maple are like a dima a dozen these days. Dogwood bloom, and they look so-so the rest of the year.

But if you get something like a Purple beech, that's leaf color for months.

Those trees are at the top of my list.

M. D. Vaden of Oregon

Beaverton, OR


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RE: Tree decision????

  • Posted by bboy z8 WA USA (My Page) on
    Sun, Jun 7, 09 at 17:07

Beeches are one of the most commonly offered trees here. Old ones also a feature of the landscape. Nothing novel about a beech at all.


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RE: Tree decision????

  • Posted by botann z8 SEof Seattle (My Page) on
    Mon, Jun 8, 09 at 14:14

Beeches have little Fall color. Just brown. My Tri-color Beech comes down with Wooley aphids about mid-season every year. I'm seriously considering removing it.


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Have you considered a ginkgo? I've always wanted to get one of these ancient and majestic trees, but i can't figure out where to put one.

"Ginkgo on Wiki"


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RE: Tree decision????

  • Posted by bboy z8 WA USA (My Page) on
    Mon, Jun 8, 09 at 20:12

Woolly beech aphids can be pretty thick here. Apparently another cold climate tree that can be buggy in our region. When choosing plants for this area you have to find the middle between the kinds that really want a more brisk climate and all those that freeze out when it gets down to 15 degrees F. or below. Too mild for fir, beech, birch, Noway maple and spruce to escape bug buildups, too cold for California Specials like eucalypts and ceanothus to be completely reliable.

Not that some of our most impressive heritage trees aren't European beeches.


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RE: Tree decision????

Most purple beech I see around here that I work on, and the big ones in our neighborhood, and mine, don't have much in the way of aphids. A few now and then.

I'd take 5 months of foliage color over a few weeks of fall color if I had only one tree to choose.

The Tricolor do seem to get more aphids. But I've never seen one damaged by them in a big way. Seen some pretty thick infestations on a few.


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RE: Tree decision????

  • Posted by botann z8 SEof Seattle (My Page) on
    Fri, Jun 12, 09 at 9:45

The Aphids don't seem to damage my Tri-color other than cosmetically. It's an ornamental. I want it to look good.

"I'd take 5 months of foliage color over a few weeks of fall color if I had only one tree to choose."
I see your point, however, if that one tree with brown leaves in the Fall ruins the picture of the other trees that have good Fall color, then it isn't worth it to me. One in a field by itself would stand out though.
There used to be a beautiful huge purple leaved Beech in Black Diamond. I admired it whenever I drove by. It has since been cut down. What a loss.

My jury is still out on the weeping forms.


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RE: Tree decision????

Here's a vote for three mentioned: the Weeping Katsura is lovely, the Black Tupelo has great form and fall color, and the Purple Beech is a very dramatic sight. I'm looking for a new tree to replace a cankered Chelan Cherry and either the Tupelo or the Purple Beech is likely to be the new inhabitant of that space.


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RE: Tree decision????

  • Posted by bboy z8 WA USA (My Page) on
    Fri, Jun 12, 09 at 16:51

'Tricolor' is extinct or nearly so. The one you are talking about is 'Purpurea Tricolor' ('Roseomarginata'). It turns coppery/bronze in summer, giving a weird effect with its pink highlights. It is also not a dwarf, so as with a non-variegated copper beech you end up with a huge brown tree in time. More deeply colored forms that give a purple effect through the season are more visually satisfying, but will still become a 100' "foliar black hole".

And if a beech gets a fungus problem or the water table rises too high for it, it goes south and starts to break up real quick. A decades-old 'Rohanii' in my garden near Seattle died suddenly one year and was on the ground only a year or two later, if that long.

Here is a link that might be useful: Article - Trees that merit planting in Seattle by Arthur Lee Jacobson


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RE: Tree decision????

  • Posted by botann z8 SEof Seattle (My Page) on
    Fri, Jun 12, 09 at 17:36

Thank you for the correction bboy. Always appreciated.


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  • Posted by bboy z8 WA USA (My Page) on
    Fri, Jun 12, 09 at 21:28

Tricolor beech has been used as a common name for both 'Purpurea Tricolor' and 'Tricolor'. 'Tricolor' differs in that it produces (produced?) green leaves variegated pink and white, instead of purple > bronze leaves variegated pink and white.

Here the white often nearly disappears within several years after planting 'Purpurea Tricolor', making it effectively a bicolor beech.


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RE: Tree decision????

Not sure about those "rising water tables" referred to.

In the Portalnd area, it's not like we have a bunch of water tables up near the surface.

A few areas where that's possible, is like Columbia Edgewater Country Club on Marine Drive, where it sits below the level of the Columbia River.

When I worked there, we installed special pumps and drainage to pump water from the course and up to the river.

But most of the metro area has little in the way of rising water tables, unless maybe near a creek or river.


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RE: Tree decision????

for planting in a school, i think a tree with a great history would be appropriate.

dawn redwoods have interesting biology and a great backstory. portland even figures into their history.

the franklin tree has the same, but is relatively short lived. very cool american tree, very rare.


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RE: Tree decision????

  • Posted by bboy z8 WA USA (My Page) on
    Sun, Jun 14, 09 at 12:10

>Not sure about those "rising water tables" referred to<

During a rainy winter we had a pond on the front lawn for awhile and the neighbor across the street had a waterfall coming into the basement. Beech are pretty touchy about drainage, flooding of the root zone may kill them.


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RE: Tree decision????

What about one of the Cornus kousa cultivars with variegated leaves?

I've seen some at nurseries lately, no idea how they perform in the garden but my plain one is wonderful.


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  • Posted by bboy z8 WA USA (My Page) on
    Mon, Jun 15, 09 at 12:42

A Kousa would probably be the best choice for accommodating the preference stated here for dogwoods. But, to remain looking good it must be planted in a location that stays or is kept moist enough for it.

Too thirsty. It loathes our dry summers and is horribly stunted. In this regard it is just like the Katsura. Happily, Kousa Dogwood will not grow too large for small gardens. I love the tree's appearance, health, and its colorful seasonal displays. But because of its virtues, and despite its thirst, it is being overplanted. It blooms in June, and Seattle would benefit by more trees that bloom later in summer

Here is a link that might be useful: Overplanted in Seattle


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RE: Tree decision????

I live adjacent to an urban greenway. There are two dogwoods (cornus kousa) across the alley from our house. They are in full sun until about 4pm in the afternoon.

They receive no supplemental water anymore, though they did receive a little bit of extra watering in their first year (very sporadic as it depends on local residents remembering -- and my neighbourhood has almost no one who cares about gardening). They were planted about 10 years ago and are now about 12 feet tall.

We haven't had much rain in the last two to three weeks and they look spectacular. The flower bracts are really hanging on this year. They've been in bloom for almost a month and are just starting to lose their bracts.

I've been so impressed with them, especially the duration of the blooms. I'm thinking of planting one in my yard in the fall. Especially since my anthracnose-ridden native dogwood is probably not going to make it much longer.


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  • Posted by bboy z8 WA USA (My Page) on
    Tue, Jun 16, 09 at 0:09

The tree won't care how it drowns.


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RE: Tree decision????

No, but the homeowners do.

That's the benefit of getting problems corrected.

Then the trees don't need to care, nor do the homeowners.

In this town, I find we don't need to introduce problems, when the solutions are much more practical to introduce.


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RE: Tree decision????

  • Posted by bboy z8 WA USA (My Page) on
    Wed, Jun 17, 09 at 20:17

Speaking of problems with trees...

Here is a link that might be useful: Wooly Aphids on a huge Copper Beech - UBC Botanical Garden Forums


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I don't see that many Kousas here in Portland. I have the only two in my neighborhood. There are at least thirty pink Floridas with varying degrees of anthracnose though...


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RE: Tree decision????

Kousa are not spectacular, but pretty controllable. Pretty good small trees.

Added a link with general information about beech below.

Here is a link that might be useful: Beech Trees at Wikipedia


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River Birch

Oh yeah ...

The river birch does pretty good here too - maybe even better on the west side of Portland, but reasonable on the east side.

Here is a link that might be useful: River Birch on Wikipedia


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Maybe consider Davidia involucrata (Dove tree), too. In flower, kind of similar to a dogwood, but the bracts bigger and hang down and flutter (like the wings of a dove). I think for your retirement tree it should be something really special- and this is.

Here is a link that might be useful: Dove tree


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That's a good suggestions Annukka! I saw a gorgeous one in flower a couple of weeks ago at the Van Dusen Botanical Gardens in Vancouver. Stunning! And a wonderful branching structure -- a perfect climbing tree.

A huge tree, though. It was easily 60 feet tall with a 30-40 ft spread. But the OP said space was not an issue. I'm not sure how old it was.


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  • Posted by bboy z8 WA USA (My Page) on
    Thu, Jun 18, 09 at 13:32

>Kousa are not spectacular, but pretty controllable<

This is one of the most conspicuous and decorative of flowering trees for cold climates, for this reason now represented by numerous cultivars. Some of these produce conspicuously variegated leaves in addition to plastering themselves with white (or pink bracts).

There is no way to cut back a developed specimen of this type of dogwood without spoiling the decorative branch structure.

In an open position the dove tree will also grow 60' wide.


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I will always encourage someone who has the room to plant a BIG tree. While a nice small tree can be perfectly lovely, it will never be majestic, or in my opinion, as breathtaking. I saw a giant tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera) in a neighboorhood garden a few years back, and will be forever jealous of it. Obviously if you plant one, you won't live to see it huge, but so what. It's like planting HISTORY. There will always be a story behind a giant tree.


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RE: Tree decision????

  • Posted by bboy z8 WA USA (My Page) on
    Sat, Jun 20, 09 at 0:25

Silver linden is impressive from a comparatively small size, due to its leaves, and has produced a towering specimen in up the river from Vancouver, BC. Unlike the dove tree it does not require irrigation in this climate, once established.

There is a park in Portland with silver lindens arranged around a formal rose garden. Looking at the Parks Department web site one could probably figure out which one it was.


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The lindens seem to do pretty well around here. Just a speck of aphids, but pretty inconsequential.

And they don't drop big seed pods or anything obnoxious.

Will also add - pretty easy on the arms for pruning, because the wood is softer, but not really weak.


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  • Posted by bboy z8 WA USA (My Page) on
    Sun, Jun 21, 09 at 13:02

Silver linden is

More uniformly healthy and vigorous than any of Seattle's other lindens. Thick, round leaves, dark green above, fuzzy white beneath. All too rare for its merits. It can reach 125' x 21' and usually has a distinctly rounded outline - like the Indian goddess Durga, of a thousand radiating arms

--Jacobson, Trees of Seattle - Second Edition (2006)


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RE: Tree decision????

  • Posted by bahia SF Bay Area (My Page) on
    Wed, Jun 24, 09 at 12:50

I'm curious to know if the hybrid Cornus x'Eddie's White Wonder' or Cornus capitata might not also be good choices for this project? Both are incredible performers here in northern California within an summer irrigated garden setting. I might also plug Cercis canadensis 'Forest Pansy' as a dramatic foliage/flowering accent tree, or how about one of the various flowering Magnolia species/hybrids? Not particularly long lived, but also very dramatic might be Robinia pseudoacacia 'Frisia'. The Gingko would be a tree that only gets better over time, and would be there for generations to come to enjoy...


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  • Posted by bboy z8 WA USA (My Page) on
    Wed, Jun 24, 09 at 16:14

'Eddie's White Wonder' originated in Vancouver BC and does well here. But the new Orton hybrid 'Venus' may prove to be more impressive.

Evergreen dogwood is grown here in more than one form but is not as handsome - or hardy - as Kousa.

Like other eastern redbuds 'Forest Pansy' may grow thin, die back or die soon after planting or some years later. This problem is not limited to this region. I would not depend on it for a commemorative planting.

Many magnolias on the market here now, evergreen magnolia definitely has its limitations and is badly overplanted anyway. Probably one of the new deciduous hybrids with distinctive flowering characteristics, such as 'Black Tulip' offers the most potential for excitement and novelty.

A problem with this particular one is that the 100 dollar 5 gallon plants prevalent at local outlets are all coming from Monrovia and are quite apparently badly rootbound - as is often the case with their products.

Possibly better quality specimens, in smaller sizes are/will be available from an alternative source such as Gossler Farms.


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RE: Tree decision????

  • Posted by bahia SF Bay Area (My Page) on
    Thu, Jun 25, 09 at 0:47

I suspect you may have some biases against the Cercis, as this tree is not at all problematic in northern California, where they can get huge and don't tend to have disease problems. I have also seen them just as healthy in the Washington, D.C. area as well as in Dallas, Texas, to name just a few. I wouldn't think that your latitude in Seatte and cooler summers would present particular problems for Cercis canadensis cultivars as long as they had good drainage and full sun, are you sure that they are consistently poor performers throughout your area?

I wouldn't have recommended Magnolia grandiflora for your area, as they are incapable of supporting the weight of ice storms and occasional snow loads without major branch breakage. There are quite a few species Magnolia's beyond the more common M. soulangeana/M. stellata/M. loebneri cultivars that would be quite showy over time. M. denudata is one, and the large leaves and impressively textured bark of M. delavayi is another one, although this last species may be a bit too tender for your area, and being evergreen, would also have the same issues with potential snow and ice damage.


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  • Posted by bboy z8 WA USA (My Page) on
    Thu, Jun 25, 09 at 2:01

We planted a native Redbud this Spring, and it has been doing well. Two days ago, we had a lot of rain and hail, followed by hot, hot weather (In the upper 80's & low 90's). Today I noticed that the leaves are a little shriveled....

I lost a 2 year old redbud 'Forest Pansy' over the winter. It had put on about 3' of growth the prior summer, so I am reluctant to say it wasn't healthy. The winter didn't seem so harsh and it as supposed to be hardy to z6 at least....

I have a four year old Redbud tree that was absolutely gorgeous before our (Was it 20 or 21 days of rain here in OKC?. Each year the ground has settled and sank around the Redbud, since it was planted. So regrettably during our rainy period it loo....

Approx 3 years ago, we purchased an Eastern Redbud from a local Lowes and planted it in a sunny location near a shallow swale in our backyard. It survived the first winter and bloomed the following spring. We had a drought that summer, but ke....

I just bought my first house 1 1/2 years ago it has a Eastern Redbud with the white flowers in front. It is of medium size maybe 13 feet tall. But for the last two seasons it has put very little leaves on. Bottom branches seem to be dieing off....

And so on.

Evergreen magnolia is very common here. Delavay's magnolia is not seen this far north. A small one grew against the house for awhile at the Elk Rock Garden near Portland, but disappeared. I suspect it froze out.

Here is a link that might be useful: Search results for: redbud


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There is no tree, at least in my mind's eye, as beautiful or as breathtaking as a weeping willow. It's grace, elegance and stately charm are magnificent! It is also a well known fact that it slurps up standing water in no time!
It grows extremely well here in the coastal Northeast. Does it also thrive in OR? To minimize aphids, how about ladybugs released into the area? I also love the flowering pear tree (it bears no fruit). It is a very fast growing tree that explodes with tiny white flowers in the spring, yielding to glossy, deep green leaves. It is the cleanest tree in our yard. Very hardy, disease and pest resistant, it turns a rich deep crimson in autumn. It has been one of our all-time best purchases. It is now about 10 yrs. old, and we love it more each year. Good luck on your retirement..remember to put a lovely bench beneath your tree so your co-workers can truly enjoy it, while remembering you at the same time!


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I, too, like dogwoods, and just planted a Satomi in my yard. It sounds like maybe I made a mistake. One tree I have seen in bloom is a Dove Tree. You should look at pictures of those in bloom. They have big white bracts, and a nice shape. But, like I say, I'm only a beginner, and Dove trees may not be a good choice.


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