October 3, 2013

What's That?

So, I was sitting on the patio admiring the trailing blackeyed susan vine, thunbergia alata 'Blushing Susie'. It hadn't done much all summer, but now in fall it is tumbling over and is finally looking pretty. About time.

But wait. Look above the Blushing Susie vine. What is that spot of red color over there in the distance? At the curve of the walk?


Must go investigate. Aaah. . .

That pop of red is sourwood, Oxydendrum arboreum. Sorrel tree. I have shown it many times on this blog, and will show it many more times. I love it.

I planted it in 2007, originally next to the patio wall, but moved it later when we installed the gravel area around the bend of the walk. Even in its first summer it bloomed with droopy lily of the valley white blossoms and it turned its characteristic deep red its first fall.

You can see from the picture above in 2007 that my tree has grown, but not by much in six years. Oxydendrum is a very slow grower. A mature sourwood grows in our neighborhood a few streets over, so I know that mine will be tall and narrow some day way in the future. This one is multi stemmed, and mine is a single trunk, though.

I think this pretty tree is not planted around here very often because it is such a slow growing tree. It takes more patience than most landscapers or homeowners want to invest.

And it can be tricky -- not reliably winter hardy in zone 5 until after its roots get established, but once it has a good root system it is hardy in our winters. It needs acid soil, which is usually not a problem in New England.

Sourwood was one of the first trees I planted in my garden. I don't mind waiting for it to gain size and grow in its slow way, because it is so colorful, so elegantly shaped, and so interesting even as a young specimen.

 

22 comments:

  1. Your patio view is crazy awesome!!! And that Sourwood is magnificent!!! It has such a cool form and the beautiful fall color is undeniable!!! Good things come to those who wait! Your garden is beautiful with its many layers and textures! Happy weekend to you!

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    1. Nicole, thanks so much. The fall color is probably the best feature of this tree, but it has lots of charm in all seasons.

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    2. Your Sourwood is looking wonderful. I love the colour. I am wondering what the red blooms are that poke up in the view towards the tree? Some of our trees have only just started to change colour, most are still green.

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    3. Patty, the red blooms are a carpet rose on the inside of the curve of the walk. It blooms all summer. But it got too big. I mistakenly though "carpet" meant a low growing rose but I think it refers to the prolific blooms. It wants to be 4 feet tall and bushy. It threatened to eat the walkway and I had to prune it every week all summer. Today I moved it and probably killed the beautiful thing. . . .

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  2. Even in its small size, the sourwood is beautiful. You're being rewarded for your patience!

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    1. Kathryn, patience is not normally my thing, but I am willing to wait for this tree!

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  3. That sourwood is worth the wait, as you knew back then. It's grown into an eye-catcher, a standout even among myriad show-offs in the season of leaf-color. Enjoy.

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    1. Lee, I do enjoy the sourwood, more than most of the plants in my garden. Makes me happy : )

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  4. Laurrie, your sourwood is lovely! It' s colorful, bright, well shaped.
    Have a nice weekend!

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    1. Nadezda, thanks! I do love this little tree.

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  5. Patience is certainly rewarded in this case. I always admire your sourwood tree whenever you show it and don't mind seeing pictures of it slowly growing and transforming into a magnificent mature tree. Have a great weekend Laurrie!

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    1. Jennifer, it is certainly slow growing -- I'm glad you are hanging in there to watch it transform in such small ways year after year : )

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  6. A beautiful little tree. A friend of mine has one and is always singing it's praises. It is worthy.

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    1. Lisa, I'm glad to know someone else has a sourwood -- I can't find very many gardeners who plant this tree.

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  7. It is indeed a beauty. I think I've seen those around here. I need to pay more attention.

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    1. Tammy, I do think sourwood, or sorrel trees as they are called in the south, grow wild in your area and throughout the southeast. Look for them in fall when it is easiest to see them glowing red!

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  8. Who doesn't love a brilliant red tree in fall? Here we get that with the sweetgum tree, which are everywhere. It's interesting that yours turned that shade of red from the beginning - I had to wait years for my fothergilla and itea to have the the fall color they were promised me!

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    1. Sarah, sweetgums are another favorite of mine, especially in fall. It's funny that your itea and fothergillas took years to develop fall color. Mine were brilliant right from the first. Different conditions in different parts of the country affect plants quite a bit.

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  9. It's certainly worth the wait! You've sited this tree perfectly, too--it really draws your eye in the patio shot. It made me want to get up and go investigate it, too.

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    1. Rose, thanks so much. I'm glad this little tree intrigued you to go look!

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  10. Your young sourwood is gorgeous.

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    1. Sweetbay, thanks! I'm jealous that you and other gardeners further south see sourwoods growing wild around you.

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