If you haven’t noticed, almost all of the street tree plantings around town are not a native species. Not a bad thing, mind you, but there seems to be a “trend” with street tree plantings that doesn’t seem to vary much from town to town.
In the 70’s the tree de jour was the Modesto Ash, and London Plane. In the 80’s it was White birches, followed by Red Maples. The 90’s fueled the Raywood ash craze, along with Norway Maples.
Don’t get me wrong, I love trees! All trees, really. There are just some trees I love more than the “go to” plantings that cropped up for whatever reason…
How about something a little more rare to break things up a bit?
Want to be the only one on your block? I’ll pitch a couple of ideas for planting that may be a little hard to find, but well worth it when you do! Normally, I find it difficult to recommend the type of tree I think someone may enjoy. It would be like me choosing your puppy, and what I pick is a wiener dog, when what you really wanted a wolfhound! But here goes…
In the conifer realm, I think a big Spanish Fir (Abies pinsapo) has got to be one of the absolutely coolest trees around! Great to the touch, graceful to say the least, and bombproof, as far as conifers are concerned. Another conifer, although not as rare would be a Nordman Fir, (Abies nordmanniana). Again, very few problems with this one, it does have a more “formal” structure than most firs, it just screams CHRISTMAS!
You can’t go wrong with a Cedar of Lebanon (Cedrus libani), often confused with the more common Deodar Cedar. These trees tend to not implode with a wet snow load we encounter here in southern Oregon. Another rarity in town would be a weeping Giant Sequoia, (Sequoiadendron giganteum pendula) the caveat to these is the attraction to sapsuckers (the bird) they create, if you figure out how to discourage them from pecking away, you are home free!
In the pine department, I really dig Foothill Pines (Pinus sabiniana). Growing up here, these will have a “fuller” canopy than the ones you see around Redding, CA.
They do need a fair amount of space to occupy, but are a fantastic tree to listen to on a breezy day! Another uncommonly planted pine would be a Himalayan Pine (Pinus wallichiana) and these come in a wide variety of varieties (pun intended) with some needle color schemes that are almost unreal, especially the “Zebrina”.
If an evergreen conifer would make for a too dark winter in your yard/garden planting site, you may consider a deciduous conifer. Often overlooked, Dawn Redwoods (Metesequoia glyptostroboides) may be confused with the more common Coast redwood, right up to about Oct-Nov when they put on a stunning pumpkin fall color display before napping for the winter. Along this same theme comes the Larch (Larix decidua) another beauty that goes dormant in autumn, letting the precious rays of the low sun aspect filter through in winter. Almost all of the above mentioned trees come in a variety of forms. Some are “tweaked” from the factory so as to have gold highlights. This will usually mean it may not be a great idea to plant it in a location where it has a full exposure to the reflective blast furnace effect from the street on the west/southwest side of the planting site. The biggest mistake you can make when planting these, or ANY tree for that matter, would be to either plant it too deep, or forget to provide sufficient moisture (irrigation), and for heavens sake, don’t put a drip emitter around the root ball and call it good! Give it plenty of water at the time of planting, and over time, expand the water regime with the growing root mass.
This is a very short list of the more rare choices of coniferous trees that will not only survive, but with proper care, thrive here! Next month I’ll throw out a few broad leaved hardwood suggestions I think would look just dandy in someones yard.