This site is for people who like plants -- growers, enthusiasts, aesthetes, novices and professionals, those who appreciate wild things and those who appreciate the cultivated. I garden in Chelsea, and I've been visiting people's yards for 20+ years in the course of my work. My goal is to make this blog a community project, so if you share my interests, please consider becoming a participant and contributing content -- Guerin. Info:

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

What to do with Parrotia persica?

Parrotia is a connoisseur's tree. Well, that seems to be its reputation. And it's a tree I really would like to love: tasteful witchhazel-like leaves, brilliant fall color, bark that blotches like a sycamore. It's not a common species in the Ann Arbor area, even though it has been known for many many decades.*

Too bad it is often a sorry sight in the landscape. It holds its brown desiccated leaves throughout the dormant period (i.e., over half the year); and its branching it so crowded and twisted it can look like a wall-o'-tree. And then, as you can see from the photos, it sends up the odd exploratory branch at the top of the crown, begging for intervention with a pair of lopers.

In my garden I have a Parrotia that looks like all heck, and it is flanked by two 'cornelian cherry' dogwoods in full flower right now. I want to shave the parrotia right to the ground. I will give it one final year to redeem itself and prove to me why it deserves a spot in my landscape.

* Parrotia is listed in old garden literature, but it has been difficult to find for purchase for decades. Why? The usual story. Growers need to know there will be a market for their trees ten years ahead of time. If a tree is not well known, growers will balk at the risk. And that guarantees that the tree will remain in obscurity. On the opposite end, the industry ends up producing a limited number of sure-fire hits: most recently red maple cultivars, prior to that green ash, and before that the thornless honeylocust.

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