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Its Time for Planting Spring Flowering Trees!
The Top 5 Spring Flowering Trees your Family will Treasure for Generations to Come!
By Chris Leinster - April 9, 2019
Another arctic storm is bearing down on Colorado, bringing much needed moisture but also worrisome freezing temperatures. This is happening just as flower and leaf buds are opening up on most trees throughout the region. Hopefully your trees are still holding onto winter dormancy. If so, this storm will pass with little effect. If buds have broken open, they could suffer damage as the temperature dips into the low twenties.
Don’t worry, trees have latent buds for just such an occasion. They will open up after the storm passes in response to a late freeze. Nevertheless, as sure as the sun will come up tomorrow, your ornamental flowering trees are preparing to burst open with an array of colorful flowers. Here are the top five flowering trees for Colorado’s front range that will decorate your yard for generations to come!
Flowering Crabapple- Crabapple are the undisputed kings of spring color! They have prolific flowers that can range from ruby red, pink, fuchsia, lavender, or white depending on the variety. Most Crabapple are small to medium sized trees that have a perfectly rounded form like a lollipop. There are some with a more upright habit like ‘Royal Raindrops’, and even a columnar form as with ‘Red Baron’. ‘Red Jade’ has weeping branches, and ‘Sargent’, ‘Coralburst’, and ‘Lollipop’ are petit patio trees for small spaces.
Some varieties of Crabapple have rather hefty apples which can be a nuisance as they drop on your sidewalks and lawn. I prefer these in your neighbor’s yard, but if you have a naturalized meadow or pasture these are quite striking. ‘Bechtel’ and ‘Brandywine’ have the most stunning pink flowers that resemble roses, but those are followed by racquetball-sized fruit. ‘Radiant’ Crabapple has reddish-pink blossoms and bright red fruit that is actually quite showy, but again a little messy.
If you want the beauty without the mess, look for varieties that produce tiny apples that shrivel up like raisins and persist on the tree. These include ‘Perfect Purple’, ‘Prairiefire’, and ‘Royal Raindrops’. ‘Spring Snow’ is the only sterile variety. It has abundant white flowers and will produce no fruit. There are hormone sprays that can be applied to disrupt fruit production, but don’t overlook the ornamental attributes of fruit or the forage value to wildlife.
Crabapple tree leaves can range from glossy green to red to burgundy. With a range of shapes, flower colors, and leaf color, there is a Crabapple for every gardener to enjoy all year long! Check out our on-line catalog for more information or give Happy Trees a call for availability.
Flowering Pear- Pear trees are very popular for their upright oval habit and abundant reliable flowers. Unfortunately, Pear trees only have white flowers, but they also pack a punch of fall color ranging from gold to red to burgundy. There are many varieties of Callery Pear that are virtually indistinguishable. ‘Jack Pear’ is a dwarf tree suitable for smaller spaces. Ornamental Pear are fruitless and mostly considered very clean trees.
Plum- Ornamental Plum trees are peppered with delightful pink or white flowers in early spring and burgundy foliage throughout the summer. ‘Newport’ has showers of pink flowers and an upright oval appearance. ‘Princess Kay’ is a petit version with double white flowers, perfect for around the patio. Closely related to Plum is the Canada Red Chokecherry. These have sprays of delicate white flowers in early spring followed by bright green leaves that fade to burgundy over the summer. In June, the tree has a two-tone effect as bright green leaves emerge on burgundy branches.
Serviceberry- a Colorado native that is found in woodland areas, usually along streambanks and marshy areas. It performs best in shade and will tolerate wet conditions. Dainty white flowers decorate the tree in early spring, and the fall color is an explosion of red-orange-yellow. Serviceberry produce berries that are quite delicious if you can beat the birds to them. You can pick them off the tree like blueberries or make jams or pies if you can gather enough.
Serviceberry can be a traditional single-trunked tree, but is perhaps best as a multiple-stemmed tree or large shrub. ‘Autumn Brilliance’ has an upright vase shape. ‘Shadblow’ is smaller with a more shrub-like appearance. There’s even a newly introduced columnar form called ‘Rainbow Pillar’ with a spread of only 10’ and a very colorful fall display.
Redbud- I hesitate to include Redbud as they just don’t like Colorado’s dry air and the failure rate is unacceptably high. They can grow here however, and the lavender flowers are so delightful I would be remis to make this list without including them. They are understory trees in the wild found under the forest canopy, and therefore they prefer shade. They are best planted downtown in established neighborhoods with protection from winter winds. Having said that, I often stumble across thriving Redbud planted out in the open and seemingly doing just fine. Because of the hardiness issue I can sell Redbud at a discount but with no guarantee.
Redbud are still worth considering for the right location. They have very graceful branching with an upright vase-shaped canopy. The prolific flowers sprout right out of the branches and even grace the trunk of the tree! The chartreuse flowers have an orchid-like appearance and the trees stop traffic when in full bloom. They are a perfect compliment to a koi pond or cottage garden, and if you can get one established you will be the envy of your neighborhood each spring.
All of these trees are in stock and available for planting as soon as this last gasp of winter passes this week. Happy Trees is a virtual nursery without a physical location. You can shop online without having to slog through a muddy nursery and Happy Trees will do the shopping for you! We will send pictures of the trees we select for your approval, or you can arrange to shop in person by appointment. Please visit our catalog of trees at www.happytrees.co, or call (720) 343-7263 and we will be happy to assist you.