My Favorite Tree, Shrub, and Groundcover
My Favorite Tree: Red Horsechestnut (Aesculus x carnea)
Yes, plant a tree, and gain the substantial benefits of its long life. But, instead of planting the same old red maple (Acer rubrum) found on every corner, please consider exceptional alternatives such as native oaks and black gums, or less common trees such as yellowwood or katsura. Or try my favorite, Red Horse-chestnut (Aesculus x carnea). While too many properties are overwhelmed by shade trees, the more modest size of Horsechestnut will not overgrow a smaller lot. And, with splendid spring blooms, this is much more than a typical shade tree.
Vice President Landscape Department
Meadows Farms, Chantilly, VA
My Favorite Shrub: Redvein Enkianthus (Enkianthus campanulatus)
Redvein Enkianthus is an understated but elegant shrub that is not commonly used, unfortunately. A narrow, upright, deciduous large shrub or small tree, it has an appealing, layered branching habit. In late May, the shrub is covered with showy pendulous clusters of creamy yellow bell shaped flowers with red veins. Its deep green leaves turn a striking, variable red fall color with tones of orange, yellow and purple. Enkianthus has similar cultural requirements and combines well with Rhododendrons and Azaleas. It does well in sun or partial shade in zones 5 to 7. I like using it as a single specimen or in “groves.”
Michael Cegan, ASLA
Richter & Cegan Inc., Avon, CT
My Favorite Groundcover: Sweet Woodruff (Galium odoratum)
Instead of mulching every year, think about planting groundcovers. A dense stand of groundcover protects the soil better than mulch. One of my favorites is Gallium Odoratum, commonly known as Sweet Woodruff. Plant it wherever you would put mulch. It likes to be kept slightly moist, and grows to about 4″ high. It thrives in either partial or full shade in zones 4 to 8, spreads quickly, is easily divided and transplanted, is covered with dainty white flowers in the spring, and rewards you with dense foliage until the winter. It is a true work horse of a plant.
Barry Greenberg, LLA
Licensed Landscape Architect
Birch Hill Landscaping, Short Hills, NJ