Plants of this Week: April 11, 2019

If you’re on my Facebook page, and if you read my column in the Fort Worth Star Telegram, you will have seen my words on both of these plants by the end of this weekend. But please let me amplify for others.

Redbud trunk with burls, and close-up photo of the masses of blooms. Click on image for larger view. (Photos sent to me last week by my friend Steven Chamblee.)

Redbud burls a-bloomin’
When redbud trees get some age on them you may begin to see burls – the bubbly growths on their trunks. The wood takes on unusual grain, and the trees produce huge numbers of flowers.

Steven Chamblee of Chandor Gardens in Weatherford sent me these photos he took somewhere in his town last week, saying that he had never seen such “cauliflorous” behavior. I put them up on my Facebook page, and as of “press time” today it’s been viewed by 90,000 people! That’s my most active post of 2019 so far, so it deserved to be repeated here in e-gardens.

This is not a specific variety of redbud, nor is it something you really want to achieve. That’s because it usually happens to old trees as they begin to decline. But it made for an interesting conversation piece and a beautiful way to celebrate spring.

Continued Below
Chinese snowball viburnum in bloom in McKinney this week. It’s a spectacular heirloom shrub that deserves more widespread planting.

Chinese snowball
This is Viburnum macrocephalum, and it really ought to be grown in more landscapes than it is. It’s an old-fashioned plant that’s best suited to the eastern half of Texas. In fact, it probably finished blooming in Southeast Texas two or three weeks ago. If that’s where you live, please forgive me for including it this week in e-gardens. It’s in full bloom right now in our hometown of McKinney.

I’m featuring Chinese snowball in my column in the Fort Worth Star Telegram this Saturday, so I’m not going to scoop myself by telling its entire story here. Suffice to say that it needs moist, highly organic soil, morning sun and afternoon shade and ample room to grow to its expected size of 10 to 12 feet tall and 8 or 10 feet wide.

Odds are that you won’t find Chinese snowball in most retail nurseries. Only the better ones that handle unusual plants will be likely to have it, but hopefully your local independent retail garden center can order it in for you.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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