In honor of National Arbor Day, April 28, we present a six-pack of trees that are a perfect fit for volunteer planters and garden center shoppers. Easily handled by one or two people, these #10 and #15 containers are an ideal size for planting on Arbor Day or any day. Not too big, and not too small, they establish quickly in the landscape. They soon grow to provide shade and/or flowers and beauty while delivering a wide range of environmental, economic and social benefits.
Our featured trees represent five of the dozens of Genera and hundreds of species that we grow in our efforts to increase the genetic diversity of our urban forests. These and many other varieties continue to be available bare root in a range of sizes through the month of May. They are being held safely dormant in our humidified, refrigerated cold storage and are ready to ship. Bare root trees can be field planted or established in containers as we did last spring with the container trees pictured here. All are hardy through USDA Zone 4.
Autumn Brilliance® Serviceberry
Amelanchier x grandiflora ‘Autumn Brilliance’
Branches billow with fluffy, snow-white flowers when this naturally occurring hybrid of two native species bursts into bloom. These are followed closely by dark green summer foliage that glows bright red orange in the fall. Purplish-blue fruits are tasty and can be made into jams and syrups – if picked before the birds gobble them down! Bright orange-red fall color is nothing less than extraordinary.
Introduced in 1986 by Illinois plantsman Willett Wandell, it is our top-selling Serviceberry and likely the most widely specified and planted of the species. A hybrid of A. arborea and A. laevis, it is broadly adaptable to varied soils and growing conditions.
The multi-stem form pictured lends an informal look to landscapes. Tree forms are also available.
Royal Raindrops® Crabapple
Malus ‘JFS-KW5’ PP 14375
Unique for its unusual cutleaf foliage, the spring blooms of this fine garden tree glow bright pinkish red in springtime. Purple-tinted leaves emerge as the blooms fade. Foliage intensifies to purple and becomes deeply lobed as it matures. Leaf shape is inherited from its fruit parent, Golden Raindrops® Crab. Its purple color holds well through the summer and into autumn.
Not to be outshone by other purple-foliaged crabapples, Royal Raindrops® sports a medley of bronze-red, purple, orange, gold and yellow tones in autumn. Its tiny, bright red, persistent fruits sparkle with winter frost and appear to be favored by birds over larger-fruited cultivars.
Sparkling Sprite® Crabapple
Malus ‘JFS-KW207’ PP 27954
Pink buds open to fragrant, pink-tinged white flowers that smother its densely branched, rounded head. Genetically destined to be a topiary tree, Sparkling Sprite® Crabapple attains a perfectly symmetrical, rounded head with little to no pruning. Perfectly suited for patio, terrace or container culture, the summer foliage of this petite top-grafted tree is especially clean, bright green and disease resistant.
The four-season show goes on well into winter, when an abundant crop of tiny persistent fruits turns from golden yellow to orange and attracts birds to the garden.
Ivory Silk® Japanese Tree Lilac
Syringa reticulata ‘Ivory Silk’
Frothy white summertime flower plumes come to mind when one mentions Ivory Silk® Tree Lilac. When its blooms take center stage in late May and early June, after the blooms of cherries, crabapples redbuds and other spring bloomers have faded, they attract pollinators eager to find new sources of nectar. (See Plants Bees Like Best) This unique flowering tree demands a curtain call in autumn when green foliage turns bronze gold.
Adaptability to urban growing conditions, small stature and an upright spreading vase shape have earned this tough little tree a place on our UtiliTrees™ list. Mature height and spread of are 20’ x 15. Available in containers or bare root, harvested during the winter months and stored safely dormant in our cold storage facilities.
Armstrong Gold® Maple
Acer rubrum ‘JFS-KW78’ PP 25301
Setting a new gold standard for columnar street trees, this improved cultivar is ideal for creating stately alleés or soaring privacy screens. Judged the top performer among hundreds of Armstrong Maple seedlings, this narrow cultivar offers improved vigor, form, foliage quality and overall performance. Greater branch density and more compact growth habit reduce pruning costs in the nursery and in landscapes. Stout branches with open angles promise improved storm resistance.
Deep green, heat-resistant foliage gives way to bright golden-orange fall color. Low-branch forms are perfect for establishing ground-hugging hedges that will screen unwanted views and assure privacy.
American Dream® Oak
Quercus bicolor ‘JFS KW12’ PP 23632
Large, lustrous, deep green leaves are thick and glossy, with wavy margins. After turning buttery yellow in autumn, they turn to rich tawny brown and remain on the tree late into the season.
This improved selection of Swamp White Oak offers the drought and heat resistance of the species, as well as the ability to thrive on poorly drained sites. It also demonstrates good resistance to anthracnose and mildew – diseases often exhibited by seedling-grown trees. Upright branch angles and a strong central leader help to develop a broadly pyramidal canopy of good density, even at a young age.
Swamp White Oak is named a 2023 Gold Medal Plant by The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society. The selection committee notes that it “tolerates most soil conditions better than many other oak species,” and calls the acorns an important source of food for wildlife. Find photos and detailed descriptions of this Midwest native in the Missouri Botanic Garden Plant Finder and Oregon State University’s Landscape Plants site.