In the Garden:
Northern & Central Midwest
April, 2012
Regional Report

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These crystal white blossoms of serviceberry are hard to resist.

Fall in Love With a Blooming Tree

This extended spring we've been having in the Midwest makes it hard not to fall in love with all the blooming trees that are in their glory right now. In my area, the warmth has been followed by an extended cool spell which has made the blossoms last a lot longer.

Consider all Aspects
It's only natural to want some of these beauties in our own landscapes. But before you storm the nursery looking for that perfect blooming tree, you need to step back and think things through. Yes, the blossoms are spectacular, but it's important to realize that they last for about two weeks. The rest of the growing season there are no flowers, and we need to be able to live with that tree in the landscape without the adornment of blossoms.

Know Your Conditions
Picking out a small flowering tree can be a daunting task, but one of the first things you need to familiarize yourself with is the conditions the tree needs in the landscape. Putting a flowering crabapple into a shady woodland setting is asking for failure. You also need to look at the type of soil the tree needs, the amount of water or drainage it demands for health, and the amount of care it will ultimately take.

Check Characteristics Before Purchasing
Look at the tree's ultimate height and width so you don't have to try to prune to keep it in bounds. This never works well. Look at the form and check out the bark, fruits, fall color, and winter interest. All of these features can make your landscape a knockout, even when the trees are not in bloom.

Take Photos
Here are some suggestions and information on spring blooming trees. If nurseries and garden centers aren't ready for you yet, get out your camera and take pictures of the trees you love so that when you do begin shopping, you'll have a place to start. You can also use the pictures for identification. If you don't know a sand cherry from a redbud, your local garden center, nursery, or Extension office can help.

Sand Cherry
With its deep burgundy foliage and soft pink flowers, this plant is an old-time favorite. Sand cherry needs perfect drainage, somewhat dry soil, and full sun. I will warn you that they almost always have trouble with borers, making them lose branches regularly.

There are many different plums in bloom right now, from the Newport plum to the American plum, our wild native plum, to domestic plums. These are the earliest to bloom and are actually almost finished. They also need well-drained soil and full sun to thrive.

The lovely fuchsia color of redbud flowers is unlike that of any other blossoms. The pea-like blooms are borne in a delicate, cloud-like haze. These are understory trees, meaning that they thrive in dappled woodland shade.

These small trees have striking white blossoms, bright fall color, attractive summer fruits, and will thrive in partial shade.

Whether ornamental or fruiting, pears require full sun and well-drained soil, just like plums.

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