Friday, May 28, 2010

Observations on three trees and their blooms

First, Clifford our Magnolia macrophylla. After last year’s exciting first bloom I really thought this was the year that the entire tree would be covered in flowers. Not the case. Just this one lonely bud. At least this year its right over the pathway to the patio, so it’s well positioned for maximum enjoyment.
With all the rain we’ve been enduring here in Portland I can also attest to the umbrella like qualities of this trees 18” long leaves. If caught in a downpour there are worse places you could find yourself.
Second, our Japanese Snowbell trees (Styrax japonicas). We have a pair of these planted in our hell (parking) strip. They were here when we moved in and both of them have reliably bloomed each year since we’ve been here, until now, year 5. This year the one on the north end is covered in blooms, like normal.
They are hard to see in the above picture but they are there, a lot of them.
The one on the south end. Not a single bloom to be found.
Well, ok…there are these 4. But it took me 5 minutes to find them, it’s weird.
Next (#3, if you are keeping track)…I’ve never been much of a Dogwood fan. They’re fine and all…but nothing to get excited about. But if they all looked like this…
Well, I’d be buying one.
Compared to the size of the tree these blooms are simply ginormous.
And beautiful.


  1. All white flowering trees here...pretty. Strange Snowbell Trees...I personally love Dogwoods, that is a spectacular one you photographed and I see the stormy sky in the background.

  2. I'm with you on the residential use of dogwoods -- way over done, especially those dreadful red ones!

    But, the solitary native dogwood on the sunny edge of a hillside of Douglas and Grand firs -- it is of sublime beauty. One of those distinctively Oregon experiences.

    Love the picture of the patio -- seems like an excellent urban retreat! Beautiful!

    I put a Stryax in my last garden. I ended up ripping it out as it self seeded like crazy, and just drove me nuts! Not to mention the profusion of flowers made such a wet soggy mess. I swapped it out for a Stewartia pseudocamellia, which ended up as a far better specimen for that particular garden.

  3. Patricia C, Portland ORMay 28, 2010

    Hey, that reminds me, I saw a single blossom on my Stewartia yesterday. I meant to take a closer look, but then I ran over to the other side of the yard and did something else. Maybe today.

    I didn't realize that was a Magnolia with those giant leaves. Dang, so many great trees, and such limited space in my yard and the neighbors.

  4. That's weird that the Snowbell tree isn't blooming on time with it's companion anymore. Beautiful little flowers though.

  5. Those pendant blossoms have me wanting a Styrax, even after reading gh1's comment.

  6. @ ricki -- don't get me wrong they are beautiful trees with a magnificent display. It just didn't work in my situation. Go for it!

  7. Isn't it crazy how two the same plant in damn near the same location can behave so differently? I never cease to be amazed.
    That Clifford, he takes his time about becoming a big flower covered tree, but I'm sure he's worth the wait.

  8. Love Clifford! I didn't realize he had the potential to become so big. He's a bona fide tree, and his leaves are beautiful.

    My Friends of Trees liason neighbor has styrax japonica in her hell strip and commented the blossoms are so downfacing they are hard to appreciate since you rarely walk right under them. They are lovely in bloom up close, though.

    I'm right there with you about dogwoods in Portland: way overused and less than thrilling in many cases. But, like gh1, give me a gorgeous cornus nutallii in flower, and I'm in heaven! That's why we put in Eddie's White Wonder: form and blossom similar to the native dogwood but much more disease resistant.

  9. Darla, we have had a few great stormy skies lately...not just the grey haze but real colorful menacing clouds.

    gh1, yes the Stryax does produce an abundant amount of seeds, no doubt about that! I am forever pulling seedlings out of the gravel below the trees. Who knew we were providing a perfect landing spot? And when the blooms fall all at once it's like an ice skating rink on the sidewalk...not good. Thank you for the kind words re the patio, I hope for some sun soon to be able to get out there and enjoy it!

    Patricia, I think you need to start branching out with your gorilla gardening efforts!

    Laura, they are! And the little green fruits that follow are pretty cute too.

    ricki, I agree with gh1...go for it! And if you want to start really small I know where you can get a free seedling or 12...

    Megan, you are right. Even if he never flowered he's still the best...with those huge leaves.

    MulchMaid, we are so proud. Our little 2ft tall Clifford has grown up to be an actual tree! You can see him from the driveway now, towering over the hydrangea. I feel just the opposite of your friend. That the hell-strip is the perfect place for the Styrax because you do walk under them, and get to enjoy them that way.

  10. Really beautiful. I love white flowers.

  11. What a nice variety of trees to admire. The flowering of all has been pretty impressive this year, maybe Clifford is still just gaining strength and maturity and next year will bust out with full bloom?? Funny about your styrax, I wonder why that happened? I am up and down with dogwoods but do like my C. kousa a lot. And there are some really nice shrubby ones for winter interest.

  12. Hi Loree~~ That is bizarre all right. My hubby sitting next to me had an interesting comment when I mentioned your Styrax peculiarity. He said, and you should brace yourself for his wry sense of humor, you should look for a dead body buried beneath it. This from the guy who consumes spy/detective novels like.... well like you and I consume plant info. Anyway, I think it's safe to say that his theory is probably not any where close to reality.

    Thank you for posting about your Magnolia. I had forgotten all about it and just added to my phone's notepad wish list. LOVE IT!
    Dogwoods: Nice in other gardens. Not mine.

  13. About the mosaic plant, I didn't enquire the price. If not, I could tell you whether the plant is expensive over here as well ;-)

    I like the dogwood but the other two shrubs have their own beauty. I still remember that magnolia bloom you have posted last time. It was gorgeous! I wish I could grow the plant here.

  14. I'm not a fan of the big, dark clouds in the first Dogwood picture. Seriously. It's June....or rather May when you photographed that!

  15. Hey Danger Gardener - I'm a bit behind in reading your postings - like about a hundred behind! But your dogwood pix caught my eye. Did you figure out that the gorgeous tree you spotted was Venus Dogwood? It's a cross between Pacific and Chinese Dogwoods. Amazingly wonderful tree - I have several! And if you want one that looks more like our native dogwood, try Starlight. Same cross, just a little more subtle.


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