Reflecting on Redbuds

The native Eastern Redbuds (Cercis canadensis) began blooming at Powell Gardens on March 19, 2012, and have held well through March 28 and into today.  They usually begin peak bloom around April 10 at Powell Gardens so this was an early event this year and it has been spectacular!  Redbuds reflect our spirit of place better than any other flowering tree as they are native to our site.  Redbuds in flower hold well in our edge of the Great Plains location being wind and frost resistant as well as lasting for at least 10 days even in warm weather — way longer than any crabapple, serviceberry and most other flowering trees.

Here’s a panorama looking towards the Visitor Center from the road between the parking lots.  The redbuds and whitebuds (Cercis canadensis ‘Alba’) are really putting on a show!

The walk from the parking lot to the Visitor Center is lined with Redbuds and Whitebuds — someday it should create a tunnel-like experience, shading visitors as they walk from the parking lot to the building.

Redbuds look beautiful when growing like they would in nature: in masses at the edge of a woods.  Their flower color is the perfect compliment for the yellow-greens of new foliage and less showy flowering trees like the tall Black Oak (Quercus velutina) blooming in this scene.  Look for this composition between the Rock & Waterfall and Perennial Gardens.

Redbud’s flower color actually is a blue-pink and looks fabulous against a blue sky and the perfect compliment for yellow-greens like the pin oak (Quercus palustris) on the right side of this image.  Blue flowering plants also look beautiful beneath redbuds including native wildflowers like Virginia bluebells, Jacob’s Ladder, Woodland Phlox, Butterfly Violets, and Crested Iris.

Flowering Crabapples (Malus cultivars) were also in bloom this week and this picture from the Perennial Garden shows: from left to right, a red-flowering ‘American Masterpiece’ crabapple, then a white ‘Donald Wyman’ crabapple and then a Redbud blooming beyond.  Redbuds unique color CLASHES with red-flowering crabapples and pink or red-flowering dogwoods.  Plant a white-flowering one to transition between these colors.  Redbuds also clash with orange and red brick so be mindful of your landscape use of redbuds!

Redbuds go well with all colors of lilacs like this Mount Baker lilac (Syringa x hyacinthiflora) in white but blue or purple-flowering lilacs make beautiful compositions with redbuds.

Sunsation Magnolia is a later blooming “yellow” flowering magnolia.  I think it is one of my favorites for its complex colors from lime to pink with various shades of yellow.  It works exceedingly well in a planting with redbuds.  Look for Sunsation Magnolia beside the Visitor Center trolley stop.

Here’s an ‘Oklahoma’ Redbud (Cercis reniformis or C. canadensis var. texensis), which blooms a bit later with rosier colored flowers.  Oklahoma Redbud was selected from the Arbuckle Mountains of Oklahoma and is exceedingly heat and drought tolerant with much more lustrous leaves than a typical redbud.  This species or variety is found wild in Southern Oklahoma through Texas but is hardy here.

The Chapel’s fountain (and the whole Chapel landscape) contains some of our best displays of Redbuds.  Most of the Redbuds around the Chapel are Whitebuds (Cercis canadensis ‘Alba’) which is a cultivar that was originally found in the wild in Missouri.  There is a newer cultivar ‘Royal White’ that is a bit hardier found in Illinois.  It is hard to tell the two cultivars apart!

This photo is not touched up!  It’s Tennessee Pink Redbud growing on the walk to the Chapel.  This redbud has cherry pink flowers and was a real stunner this spring.  Appalachian Red is another cultivar with zippy, almost red-pink flowers.

This pinker Redbud is the older cultivar ‘Rubye Atkinson’ and is missing the blue overtone typical of redbuds.  Look for this tree over near the Chapel Walk.

This pearly-pink Redbud is the cultivar ‘Pauline Lily’ and is a lovely, softest pink.  Look for this tree near the Chapel trolley stop.

The redbud flowers are currently waning but some are still in lovely flower. (The picture is from the Chapel trolley stop looking towards the woodland walk to the Chapel.)  The Flowering Dogwoods will open fully this weekend as will our Oriental wisterias on the Arbor in the Perennial Garden.  Make sure to walk the Dogwood Walk from the Visitor Center to the Island Garden and over to the lakeside arbor in the Perennial Garden as it is rare for our wisterias to be so completely loaded with their purple, pendant and exceedingly fragrant blooms.  Come celebrate the beauty of our landscape filled with spring-flowering trees!

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