Archive for the 'trees | deciduous' Category

Stewartia pseudocamellia | Japanese Stewartia



DESCRIPTION | small, deciduous, ornamental tree

SIZE | 20′ – 30′ tall

FLOWER | lovely, 2″, white, June – July

NOTES | exfoliating bark provides winter excellent interest, pretty fall color

Amelanchier arborea | Downy Serviceberry

Amelanchier arborea grove

Amelanchier arborea grove


DESCRIPTION |  native, deciduous, woodland, multi-stemmed tree

SIZE |  15′ – 25′ tall

FLOWER |  small, white, early April

NOTES |  beautiful fall color, bright red berries in spring and summer

Cornus florida | American Dogwood

Cornus florida | American Dogwood

Native to MD and the East Coast Piedmont woodlands, yes, I admit that I love them. I can’t help it. They were everywhere in Atlanta where I grew up and definitely have a southern charm.  Dogwoods are so happy. Their upturned swooping branching habit creates the illusion of floating blossoms when they bloom in April before the folliage. They are at home in almost any type of landscape design, formal and informal. They look great in mass or as a focal point specimen. I’ve even seen them used succesfully as a screen.

Dogwoods should be planted in shade, since they are an understory tree.  This is very important to successful growing conditions and preventing undue stress which could make them suseptible to disease.  Dogwoods have been famously suffering from an “anthracnose” in recent years which can kill a healthy tree in a couple of seasons.  The first noticeable symptoms are when leaves turn fall color and drop early, even in July.  If you see this begin to happen while it is only affecting a few leaves, you still have a chance of preventing the disease from taking over completely, but you must act by cleaning up any fallen leaves and removing any new water sprouts which tend to spread the disease.  There are many good articles on this topic.  Here is one from Clemson.



The name “dogwood” may have been originated from the Gaelic term “dag”, a pointed tool used to punch leather or meat. Another possibility comes from England. Years ago, people there used the bark of the bloodtwig dogwood (Cornus sanguinea) to bathe mangy dogs. On this continent, flowering dogwood has been used by Native Americans to make scarlet dyes and tinctures. Although the fruits are poisonous to humans, in the late 1700s, colonists made a tea from dogwood bark to reduce fevers and soothe colds. The wood of the dogwood tree is used today to make small tools and ornaments. It has been under cultivation in North America since the 1730s. Today, flowering dogwoods are popular landscaping trees. They are slow growing (often only a few centimeters per year in dense shade), resilient, and beautiful.

‘Cherokee Cheif’ available, heavy fruiting 15′ tall
ZONES HARDINESS | SUN OR SHADE ….. 5 – 9 | full sun to full shade
GROWTH RATE ….. medium
HEIGHT / WIDTH ….. 20′-30′/7′ to 15′
PLANT SHAPE & BRANCHING ….. Loose, rounded; many horizontal and ascending branches
LEAF FORM & SHAPE ….. 1.5″-3″ obovate, impressed veins, obtusely serrated, thin, light
LEAF ARRANGEMENT ….. simple, alternate
LEAF COLOR ….. Deciduous | dark green, turning bright orange and soft red in fall
FLOWERS | small white in spring
BERRIES | beautiful bright orange red

SOIL does well in moist to dry and slightly alkaline
Native MD to FL and west to TX

Sustainable Woodland Path | dogwood*design project

IMG_9985.JPG, originally uploaded by dogwood*designer.

Adele Medina O’Dowd, principal, dogwood*design, llc
contact me | or 202.255.0728
references available upon request


This little stretch of earth was once lined in dying bamboo, but has now been rejuvenated and reclaimed as a lovely passageway between Chevy Chase West’ Hunt Avenue and Drummond Avenue. The big problem here was water and drainage since possibly a couple hundred commuters and school children take this route through the neighborhood each day. The bottom of the of the pass was always flooding in heavy rain since it had a very low spot.

Once the bamboo was removed and tilled out of the ground, a great spot as left for a garden. But since this land is community property and therefore no on in particular is responsible for it’s upkeep except willing neighbors, dogwood*design was charged with designing a plan that would be sustainable and a pleasure to see each day and with seasonal interest.

Planted here are purple Beautyberries, native Virginia Sweetspire ‘Henry’s Garnet’ and Spicebush, as well as tall growing evergreens Aucuba japonica and Leatherleaf viburnum. Two trees adorn the spot now, a light green needled evergreen Limber Pine and a very showy deciduous Chinese Fringetree with it’s exfoliating bark and lacy white spring plums.

Hope you have a chance to pass by and enjoy this sustainable community bright spot.



IMG_9987.JPG IMG_9992.JPG

CCW Path Plan.jpg

Repitition | Landscape Design Ideas

IMG_1788.JPG, originally uploaded by dogwood*designer.

Repitition | Landscape Design Ideas

So the fall color emphasizes the beautiful repetition of understory trees here at Brookside Gardens in Silver Spring, MD. The repetition of the small trees in addition, shows off the repetition of the contrasting tall trees, which maybe you wouldn’t notice so much otherwise. The grouping of small trees and weight of their mass also gives visual weight to the middleground in view coming around a long path. Like curves, repetition suggests movement and something exciting to come.

Cornus x ‘Rutban’ | Aurora Dogwood

IMG_7381.JPG, originally uploaded by dogwood*designer.

Cornus x ‘Rutban’ | Aurora Dogwood

This is a neat hybrid – one of the “Rutgars” hybrids – of C. florida and C. kousa. As I am not sucha fan of kousa, mainly because I’m very much in love with florida, this might be an exceptabel substitute if needed. It doesn’t have the aligator skin of florida, but the blooms come out earlier than kousa, so you still get that great srping time effect. The leaves do start to emerge while the flowers are in bloom but, not so much as kousa. Also the blooms are more rounded like florida. Aurora is also more resistant to anthracnose, which is definitely a plus. I would reccomend it to people who aren’t as picky as I am for sure.

Cladrastis kentukea | Yellowwood

IMG_7317.JPG, originally uploaded by dogwood*designer.

Cladrastis kentukea | Yellowwood

Yellowwood is a small tree, with yellow wood on the inside of the bark. The outside is very light gray. It has zero pest problems and is native. It’s pretty bloom racines dangle in late May when not much else is blooming. This versitile tree can even be good neighbors with black walnuts. It’s an unusual (underused) choice. The very simple folliage is a lot like Kerria japonica, and can be id’d because it is alternate while K. japonica is opposite.

Styrax japonicum | Japanese Snowbell

IMG_7702.JPG, originally uploaded by dogwood*designer.

Styrax japonicum | Japanese Snowbell

Another great small tree for the shade garden, makes a good companion for a rock wall. The bell shaped blooms hang below the leaves and branches.

Prunus spp. | Flowering Cherry Trees

IMG_7328.JPGPrunus ssp | Flowering Cherry Blossom Trees

Perhaps the differences don’t matter to you, but if you do want to compare and contrast, this list may help you choose the right one for you. Maybe you should try a few. Please note that many well known shrubs and trees belong in the species Prunus; all fall into four basic catagories: 1. Apricots and Peaches, 2. Plums, 3. Laurels, and 4. Cherries. Many will be covered in other posts to plantid. Check out the plant index for more.

Famous beauty and especially loved in the DC area because of their glorious spring time display on the National Mall. Experts and others annually bet on what will be the peak date. Nuf said. Alone or in mass, Cherry Blossoms are undeniably happy. They bring a great focus to any garden. Yes, the bloom time is brief, but I’m not alone in my admiration for their fabulous bark, which is often peppered with decorative lines and lenticels. Sun lovers, they can take part day shade if you’re desperate to have one, but pick your sunniest spot. They grow quickly with knarled and crooked branches that add character and give any garden the Secret Garden appeal.

Learning to prune these guys is skill you would wisely come by. It is especially important to identify the leader(s) and other main branches before they get too large to prune easily, sometime around the 3rd or 4rth season, otherwise you may pay experts to do it (which is also fine). Be careful to prune out branches that touch. Prune only about 10% per year, so you don’t cause unnecessary water sprouts. Benefits from pruning are that you end up with a much stronger, sturdy and full blossoming tree. It will be more compact and kids can climb it. Some Cherries have more pests than others, but none produce the horrible problems of Malus (Crabapple) or Pyrus calleryana (Flowering Pear).

IMG_7342.JPG IMG_7343.JPG
[bad graft above left | great graft above right]
Purchase B&B as 2″ to 5″ caliper, each 2 inches larger will cost 1.25 times more. Look for clean, unnoticeable grafts at base of tree or just below folliage. A bad graft looks exponentially ugly as it grows and can be a weak spot that allows decay and disease.

ZONES HARDINESS | SUN OR SHADE ….. 5 – 8 | full sun to light shade, Deciduous
GROWTH RATE ….. medium to fast
LEAF ARRANGEMENT ….. simple, alternate
LEAF SHAPE & FORM ….. all Flowering Cherry Trees have spear, the only difference is how wide and general size. They also all seem to have some degree of serration.


IMG_7129.JPGPrunus cerasifera ‘Thundercloud’ | Cherry Plum [above] species has regular green leaves but the cultivar has wonderful dark maroon leaves. Best shows up in a sunny spots on an open lawn, too dark to tuck in, unless color contrast can be highlighted, maybe for example next to a weeping willow or even lilacs
HEIGHT / WIDTH ….. 20′-30′/20′
PLANT SHAPE & BRANCHING ….. More dense than other cherries, rounded, many horizontal and ascending branches
LEAF SIZE & COLOR ….. 1.5″-2.5″/1″ roundly eliptical with a point
FLOWERS | .75″ single, light pink before leaves, loudly fragrant, early April
FRUIT | red edible drupe, 1″ each in July and August
NATIVE HABITAT Western Asia, not as hardy as others | SOIL adaptable, ok in tough site except for polution
more pics from dogwood*design on Flickr

Prunus sargentii | Sargent Cherry or sometimes Black Cherry [above] valued for it’s wood, nice in the wild. I would choose others for my garden over this, but there are some cultivars available. It’s too large for most residential use anyway. ‘Columnaris’ might be worth checking out.
HEIGHT / WIDTH ….. 50′ but under cultivation 30′
PLANT SHAPE & BRANCHING ….. Open, rounded; many horizontal and ascending branches
BARK | distinctive many ringed, somewhat attractive, polished gray brown
LEAF SIZE & COLOR ….. 3″-5″ rounded, nice fall color
FLOWERS | single pink, late April-May
FRUIT | purple black drupe, June July
NATIVE HABITAT SOIL adaptable, grows in wild

Prunus serotina | Wild Black Cherry [above] pioneer species, naturalized, troublesome pest. You would never see this for sale but you will see it ALL the time in the wild. If you do, it’s good to get rid of it, because when the branches break a chemical change happens that makes the wood poisonous to eat for us, but is especially a problem for wildlife and cows.
HEIGHT / WIDTH ….. up to 50′, but most often shrubby, succoring, but sometimes a tree
PLANT SHAPE & BRANCHING ….. Loose, open, succoring, slightly pendulous especiall when large
LEAF SIZE & COLOR ….. 2″-5″/ 1.5″ narrow or rounded, acute point
FLOWERS | 4″ to 6″ racimes, white, May to April
FRUIT | red in Aug turning black in Sept, can be used to make wine and jelly (yuck)
NATIVE HABITAT SOIL does well in ANY, very tough

IMG_7042.JPG Prunus serrulata ‘Kwanzan’ | Kwanzan Cherry [above and right] frilly and undeniably girly, bloom time reminds me of bustling petticoats. Yes, it is pretty and has very attractive bark, many people LOVE them. It’s a personal choice. They can be very messy when the blooms drop, but mounds of pink snow is kind of fun. Sometimes can look too perfect. Proper pruning can help with the fairly frequent breaking branches. They are short lived for cherries, usually, because they are one of the most difficult to take care of. Pretty hardy.
HEIGHT / WIDTH ….. 20′/30′
PLANT SHAPE & BRANCHING ….. Open, wider “Y” shape than Yoshino
BARK | distinctive orangey wine colored, big lenticels, shiney
LEAF SIZE & COLOR ….. 2″-5″/half width, uniform, very pretty reddish new growth and decent fall color
FLOWERS | triple deep pink, abundant, mid-April after Yoshino and others
FRUIT | insignificant


Prunus subhirtella ‘Pendula’ and ‘Autumnalis’ | Weeping, Spring, Higan or Rosebud Cherry [above 2 and right] One of my favorites, very similar to Yoshino (Yedoensis), except folliage can be more weeping. Tops often (always?) grafted onto nicer bark trunks. Be careful to look for a good graft when purchasing. The weeping branches are truely fantastical.
HEIGHT / WIDTH ….. 20′-40′/15′-30′
PLANT SHAPE & BRANCHING ….. Open, weeping, graceful, strongly single stemmed because of grafting
BARK | can be any attractive cherry depending on the producer, but often shiny
LEAF SIZE & COLOR ….. 1″-4″/half width, uniform, sometimes very narrow, acute and willowy. ‘Autumnalis’ has orangey reddish folliage
FLOWERS | single and double, light to dark pink, depending on cultivar, March to April
FRUIT | red adds extra seasonal interest
NATIVE HABITAT Asia | among the most heat, cold and pollution tollerant – could be a good street tree

Prunus x yedoensis | Yoshino Cherry [above] My ABSOLUTE favorite Cherry and a top 10 tree of a times. Not that you care but I have one in my own garden. Looks very natural in any setting but especially in a woodland garden. The single blooms are are soft and each subtle, light as air, but fill your view when the tree is at peak. Accept for pruning, they are ususally pretty easy-going. Go for it, get one today.
HEIGHT / WIDTH ….. 20′-40′/15′-30′
PLANT SHAPE & BRANCHING ….. Vase shaped, narrower than Kwanzan, opens to semi-weeping with age, graceful, branches compeat to be the leader
BARK | wonderful medium warm gray, with characteristic showy cherry lenticils, but not as “pushy” as Kwanzan
LEAF SIZE & COLOR ….. 2.5″-4.5″/half width, uniform, sometimes very narrow, acute and willowy.
FLOWERS | single soft pink turning white, first to bloom, blooms when nothing else is
FRUIT | insignificant little green balls
NATIVE HABITAT ….. Asia, Japan | pretty adaptable

Prunus x ‘Mume’ | Japanese Apricot

Prunus ‘Okame’ | Okame Cherry Blossom

dogwood*design Prunus set on Flickr

Prunus yedoensis

Prunus yedoensis, originally uploaded by kinbatyou.

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