The gardener's eye

The Gardener's Eye

Sunday, June 1, 2014

May I Offer you a Handkerchief?

When we visited Stourhead, an 18th landscape garden during our garden tour last week, the Davidia involucrata trees were in bloom. Davidia involucrata is also known as the handkerchief or dove tree because of the large white blowsy flowers, was brought to England from China in 1900 by the plant hunter E. H. Wilson. I suspect that the seed that he collected was also sent to the Arnold Arboretum in Boston where I have seen a magnificent specimen. 

On the right side of the picture, with the Temple of Apollo in the distance, is a Davidia involucrata  tree in full flower.

A closer view of the same Davidia involucrata tree

My favorite memory of this tree was when I visited Sakonnet Garden in Rhode Island about a dozen  years ago. The Davidia involucrata tree was in bloom and I pressed one of the papery flowers in my gardening journal. It is a wonder reminder of a beautiful garden and an unusually lovely tree.


  1. I have seen that Davidia in full bloom and it is magnificent. It is extremely difficult to photograph the tree in a way that shows its full power. There a beauty at Winterthur, too. Have you seen it? It is near the house on the pool side.

  2. I have never seen the tree at Winterthur, Pat, but I would love too see it in flower. I think a day earlier or later would not have nearly as beautiful at Stourhead. I have read it blooms best on alternate years.

  3. That look like time well spent. I always think that the ideal day out should consist in part of time spent in a garden. It gives you so many great opportunities to enjoy the many wonders of nature. On a large scale, you get to appreciate how everything in nature works together to produce beauty. That tree does produce interesting flowers.

    Norberto @ Thorburn Landscapes



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