I had a drawing class last Sunday near the Arnold Arboretum and decided to spend an hour or two roaming the grounds looking for interesting trees and shrubs. February is the perfect month to search for examples of plants with exceptional winter interest and there is no better spot at the Arnold Arboretum than the Explorers Garden on Bussey Hill. The Explorers Garden is on a protected slope and has specimens of unusual trees from around the world.
After taking their propagation course, I was able to collect seeds from plants at the arboretum to grow in my own garden. I propagated two Stewartia pseudocamellia trees in 1996 from seeds collected from a tree here on Bussey Hill. Sixteen years later, I have two 12 foot tall trees in my Lower Garden form Arnold Arboretum parents. I had mistakenly assumed these trees would be twins but soon discovered that I knew only one parent for certain. In fact, I may have created a cross of two different species of stewatias.
Stewartia monadelpha has a chocolate-colored exfoliating bark
A close up of the bark of Stewartia monadelpha
Stewartia sinensis, the Chinese Stewartia, has a more subtle bark
A closer look at Stewartia sinensis
I collected seed from this specimen of Stewartia pseudocamellia which was propagated from seed collected in Korea by E. H. Wilson in 1917
The muscular trunks of Stewartia pseudocamellia remind me of a boa constrictor
This ancient Acer griseum tree was brought, as a seedling, by Wilson from China to Boston in 1907. This specimen is thought to be the source of the first generation of paperbark maples planted in North America.
Acer griseum Accession number: 12488
The cinnamon-colored bark of the oldest Acer griseum specimen in the United States
Ulmus parvifolia or the Chinese Elm is a graceful tree that grows 40-50 feet in height in cultivation and makes it an ideal shade, specimen or street tree.
The showy exfoliating bark of Ulmus parvifolia displays random, mottled patterns of grey, green, orange, and brown
Pinus densiflora 'Umbraculifera' is a slow-growing dwarf cultivar that is often grown as multi-trunked small tree with handsome orange-red bark
I noticed the tan bark of Corylus fargesii, a new tree to me, from quite a distance away as I was walking on Valley Road at the Arnold Arboretum. I was certain that it was Acer triflorum but was mistaken.
The peeling copper-colored bark of Corylus fargesii, the Farges filbert, rivals any tree on Bussey Hill and looks very similar to the River Birch, Betula nigra. It can grow over 100 feet tall in its native China. I think it would make a magnificent specimen tree.