Everyone goes on and on about the flowering dogwood, Cornus florida. There are dogwood festivals and dogwood streets and dogwood subdivisions. Dogwood. Dogwood. Dogwood. Whatever. The flowering tree I think of as THE spring flowering tree is dogwood’s less lauded neighbor, Cercis canadensis – redbud. If you want a glorious spectacle to enjoy take a drive south from Indy this time of year. Roadsides everywhere are brightened by the deep lavender-pink blooms of this native tree. My usual path is south on I-65 then west on I-64 to the old homeplace. But I’m certain State Road 37 down through Bedford would be gorgeous. I-74 to Cincinnati should be good as well. The redbuds seed into the open cuts made into forests when these roads are constructed and just keep spreading. When one gets cut down it quickly resprouts and in a few years is blooming again.
I’ve heard people complain about redbuds because they can get a canker that kills bits or all of a tree. They nearly always resprout and grow back into a lovely shaped plant again in short order so I don’t see the problem. The redbud is so much less fussy than the very nearly worshiped flowering dogwood.
Heaviest bloom does come in full sun but partial or even full shade is tolerated. I’ve seen them growing in the cut stone along an interstate. I’ve seen them growing in the yellow clay of a southern Indiana cow pasture. And everywhere in between. Their naturally beautiful form makes them ideal trees for year round interest. Nice grey bark in winter is followed by the spectacular flowering. Deep green heart-shaped leaves deliver great texture through summer and come fall the lovely yellow foliage is one last reminder of how wonderful this tree is.
Redbuds are usually a good bright lavender-pink. I admit the usual color is not my favorite normally. But somehow it is different when the color is coming from the redbuds. Heavens though, do not plant them near anything with gold flowers. I don’t even like some of the different colored cultivars planted together let alone their shades of lavender, pink and “red’ with forsythia and the like.
Here’s a little collection of the different colors. You can see these Saturday and Sunday in the Deer Zink Events Pavillion at the Indianapolis Garden Club of America Show – Les Belles Fleurs.
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Filed under: Horticulture