The early-spring landscape comes to life when Cornelian cherry dogwood (Cornus mas) comes into bloom. In Kansas City the glowing-yellow flowers appear in March, just about the time the first crocus pops up in lawns. This little tree grows slowly to about 20 feet tall. Plant it in part shade or sun.
Next to bloom, in midspring, is dogwood (Cornus florida) a fine native tree with a sculptural spreading form and brilliant white or pink flowers. Dogwoods bloom profusely even when they’re very young; migrating birds eat the red berries in fall. Dogwoods are native to woodland edges, but they do fine in either sun or part shade.
A graceful beautybush (Kolkwitzia amabilis) stands about 15 feet tall outside my back door. In May its arching branches are simply covered with soft-pink flowers. ‘Dream Catcher’ has golden leaves with bronze tips. Birds in my garden love to perch in this multi-stemmed small tree.
In early June, fringe tree (Chionanthus virginicus) bears flowers like delicate white fringe. This native tree grows slowly to only about 15 feet tall. It prefers moist sites in nature, but this tough garden tree is adaptable even to dry spots.
Midwestern gardeners are catching on to the beauty and hardiness of crape myrtles (Lagerstroemia indica), an extremely popular flowering tree in the South. Razzle Dazzle® crape myrtles are small, mounding shrubs or small trees, growing to about 5 feet tall. Their ruffled flowers cover the plants in late summer. After the blooms fade, this showy garden tree’s tiny leaves turn stunning red, bronze and orange in autumn. They’re best in sun.
What small trees do you have in your yard?
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