Winter trees

On my walk the other day I took photos not just of the terrible trees, but of the nice ones too. I love deciduous trees in winter, as you get to see their branching structure so much more clearly. Some of them are really magnificent too.


Not the trees in my yard though. The only ones that have any character in winter are the black locusts, and they're not the healthiest specimens around. Plus I only have a couple left -- most have been removed. Around the neighborhood though there are some beautiful trees...

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First up, a really nice American Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis):


This is the species of tree that gets the largest in this part of the country, or at least that's what I've seen. Shaw Nature Reserve has a few giant specimens, and there are two growing in a small wild area in my neighborhood too. I can't believe I've never done a post about them... I'll have to dig through old photos.

Next up are a picturesque source of irritation for many people in our neighborhood, the Sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua):


These are nice trees in almost every way: nice form, grow quickly while young, good fall color -- but their seedpods (or "gumballs" as they're called around here) are a nuisance! Everybody who has one of these trees complains about the gumballs.


As one of the few people on my street that doesn't have one, I think they're attractive.

I'm not sure what this next small tree is, but its berry-laden branches almost poked my eye out:



That's what I get for walking along while looking up at trees. This could be American cranberry bush viburnum (Viburnum trilobum). Does anybody know for sure?

Next up are a pair of Tuliptrees (Liriodendron tulipifera):


Whoever thought of planting these across the street from one another has my admiration, as it makes a beautiful scene. I only learned about this species of tree this year, first when I found a small sapling growing in my garden, and then when I was researching potential replacement trees for the ailing ash in my front yard.


They have a unique leaf structure, spring flowers (which I've not yet seen), and these persistent seed pods which I've never noticed until this year. I've walked underneath them for years, never paying attention. They're lovely!


Hey, that's not a tree! I couldn't resist a photo of one of the few other yards in the area that contains bamboo (Phyllostachys aureosulcata). I plan on talking to the homeowners in the next couple of months, as they have a rhizome escape problem as evidenced by shoots coming up along the side of the house last year. It's not a well-maintained grove, and could be much more attractive. Great privacy though!

Back to the trees, and another cross-street pairing, this time of American sycamores:


Just amazing trees! I don't know if I'd want one in my yard though, as they drop lots of litter (but I think all of my trees already do that). So impressive though... okay, maybe I do want one in my yard.

Next up, what I thought was a holly, but now I'm not sure:



It's loaded with berries. I wish I had my good camera with me so I could see the leaves more clearly. It's a stunning plant right now, whatever it is!

Finally, a couple of bald cypress (Taxodium distichum) that are much larger than the one in my yard:


These are old enough to produce cones (it's a deciduous conifer -- did you know that?), but I mainly like the branching structure and somewhat shaggy bark:


Beautiful trees that adapt well to city conditions, and will eventually get quite large. Bald cypress grows quickly when young (mine adds at least 3' of height every year) but then slows down, has strong limbs, feathery foliage -- just great trees!

But it seems that there are several different species in the neighborhood that I'd consider to be "great" based on these photos.

It's going to be difficult to choose one for my yard!


Do you have any great winter trees in your garden or neighborhood?

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Lisa  – (January 12, 2013 at 8:06 AM)  

We live I'm a neighborhood where every front yard has either a white pine or a maple of some kind. Pretty boring I'm afraid! But they are all matured now and I have to say most have been well maintained over the years so they do add to the overall beauty of the neighborhood. And as I frequently remind myself - there's a reason why people plant the same things.... They thrive!

M  – (January 13, 2013 at 2:16 AM)  

Just a word of advice as a owner of Liriodendron tulipifera, the tree takes around 15 years from seed to develop flowers. They are a messy tree especially when in flower during the spring. If you intend to keep your seedling, site it away from your driveway or any other structure where sap would be a problem.

Jason  – (January 13, 2013 at 3:32 AM)  

That first tree with the red berries is definitely not American cranberrybush (Viburnum trilobum). Not sure what it is, though.

Alan  – (January 13, 2013 at 6:43 AM)  

M: thanks so much for the advice. Sap was the one negative aspect of that tree, and is probably why it won't make the final cut (too near the driveway)

Jason: somebody on Facebook suggested it could be a dogwood, but my dogwood doesn't produce anywhere near this number of berries.

Anonymous –   – (January 13, 2013 at 11:12 AM)  

maybe it's an Arrowwood Viburnum. they have tons of berries on them right now. i look at a giant White Oak through my bedroom window every day before i meditate. incredible structure - Oaks. Beth

barbie  – (January 14, 2013 at 4:00 AM)  

Love love winter trees too. The outlines are so striking and with snow even more beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous –   – (January 14, 2013 at 9:32 AM)  

Hey Alan,
Just another friendly caution on tulip trees if you haven't completely discounted the idea. Every August all of my tulip trees drop about 25 - 40% of their leaves. It makes an early leaf mess, and the trees just don't look good throughout this process. Maybe it's heat/drought stress, but it happens every year. Maybe this also only happens in the Southeast. There are just many more superior choices out there ... try a Dawn Redwood or the Golden Dawn Redwood called 'Ogon.' You would love either one given your happiness with the Bald Cypress.
Best, -jeremy

Alan  – (January 14, 2013 at 11:21 AM)  

Jeremy: thanks! I was really considering a Dawn redwood too, but I know that in several decades it may be too large for this spot -- their trunks get wide at the base. I certainly won't be here to deal with that problem, and they're such wonderful trees. It's on my top 5 list. :)

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