Saturday, December 27, 2008

Evergreen Trees

I'm giving myself a task this winter to put together a list of evergreen trees and shrubs for the Williamsburg area (what else is there to do this time of year?). It's a work in progress and I'll be expanding it from time to time. First up - trees.

The Usual Suspects
These are the most commonly grown species in this area. They are used in both residential and commercial landscapes and are sold in large quantities by wholesale nurseries.

Ilex opaca - American Holly
This is a very common native tree, growing just about everywhere in our local woods. Its very nice in fruit, but a lot of people don't like the coarse, prickly character of the tree. This tree may not be planted that often, but it's probably already in your yard.

Magnolia grandiflora - Southern Magnolia
This is a very common native tree around here. It originally grew more to the south of our area but has now spread into the Mid-Atlantic area because of it's ornamental qualities. A very handsome tree with huge white flowers and large dark leathery leaves that drop and take forever to decompose. It has a very strong visual character, almost 'in your face'. Don't bother transplanting one of the seedlings that are coming up in the woods - the named varieties are so much better! Be sure to one with a nice rusty brown color on the back of the leaves. I really like the multi-trunked form of this specimen in near downtown Williamsburg.

Pinus strobus - White Pine
This native native pine grows better more to the north, although you do see it quite a bit around here. This grouping was photographed in Holly Hills in Williamsburg.

Pinus taeda - Loblolly Pine
Along with Virginia Pine, this is the most common native pine in our area. Often planted as a screen, it eventually grows tall and loses it's lower branches, along with it's screening ability. This grouping is near the College Creek beach along the Colonial Parkway.

Quercus hemisphaerica - Darlington Oak
This native tree is really semi-evergreen but they hold on to their leaves into the winter. The leaves are similar too, but slightly larger than a Willow Oak. This tree is along Richmond Road in the Wren Yard at William and Mary.

Quercus virginiana - Live Oak
This smallish, spreading native tree reaches it's northern limit around Williamsburg, so I wouldn't recommend planting it here, maybe a little further down the peninsula - they are beautiful though. This tree is next the President's House at William and Mary.

Beyond the Norm

These species aren't as commonly used, but it shouldn't be too hard to find them at your local garden center.

Cedrus atlantica - Atlas Cedar
Sometimes grown as a specimen tree, it's probably too big for residential use. I think of it as sort of an 'estate' tree. This tree is on the campus of William and Mary to the south of Blow Hall.

Cryptomeria japonica - Japanese Cryptomeria
This is nice tree with a somewhat rugged texture. It would be great as a single specimen tree or in a grouping of three or more. There is a nice grouping of these next to Phi Beta Kappa Hall at William and Mary.

Juniperus virginiana - Eastern Red Cedar
Certainly not unusual in the wild (there everywhere!), but not used too much in the home landscape. A lot of people don't like the rugged look they can have. This tree is along the James River at Westover Plantation.

Magnolia virginiana var. australis - Evergreen Sweetbay Magnolia
The native sweetbays that grow around here are pretty much deciduous, but some forms are evergreen. I love these trees! The white flowers are pretty and fragrant but not super showy. This tree is in front of Coke-Garrett house in Colonial Williamsburg.

Picea abies - Norway Spruce
Another big 'estate' tree. They seem kind of old-fasioned to me. This tree is near the Williamsburg Baptist Church on Richmond Road.

Prunus caroliniana - Carolina Cherry Laurel
This is a nice small native tree that grows very commonly around here, but it's not used that much, probably because it's not showy. Its fruits, which are black, might be called 'interesting'. This shot was taken in Colonial Wiliamsburg - there are lots of them there.

Tsuga canadensis - Canada Hemlock
This species has been badly affected by the hemlock wolly adelgid, so I wouldn't recommend planting it, but if you already have one it can be treated if it gets infested. My friend Jack points out that this is one the few evergreens that does well in shade. Tsuga caroliniana (Carolina Hemlock) is a close relative and grows in the southern part of the U.S. This tree is next to the Elkanah Deane house along the Palace Green in Colonial Williamsburg.

What in the World?
These are fairly unusual species. If you see one of these, it was probably planted by a pretty adventurous gardener. These are probably available only through mail-order or person to person exchange.

Daphniphyllum macropodum - Daphniphyllum
I've only see this at the Virginia Tech Agricultural Research Station. I don't know too much about it except that it has nice glossy leaves.

Gordonia lasianthus - Loblolly Bay
This native tree grows a little to the south of our area but this one at the Virginia Tech Agricultural Research Center seems to be doing fine. There was one at the Colonial Williamsburg native plant nursery but it finally succumbed to cold weather. It has beautiful white blooms something like a Franklinia.

Manglietia yunnanensis - Yunnan Magnolia
This is another tree I've only seen at the Virginia Tech Agricultural Research Station. I haven't seen it in bloom.

Persea palustris - Swamp Bay
This is a handsome native tree that grows in swampy areas. Unfortunately the leaves are usually covered with insect galls, which can be very unattractive. Jamestown Island is a good place to see them and there are also several in Colonial Williamsburg.

Pinus palustris - Longleaf Pine
This is a native tree that is more common in the south. It used to be one of the dominant trees in the southern part of Virginia (south of the James River) but has now been almost wiped out. It spends many years of its youth in a grass-like stage before shooting up. This picture was taken in the Zuni Pine Barrens preserve. Interestingly, most of the Longleafs there are actually the offspring of trees from Georgia and other southern states - the trees in the preserve were planted many, many years ago. Virginia now has a Longleaf farm near the Zuni preserve with thousands of seedlings from the 500 or so remaining Virginia Longleafs. There are a couple of recently planted trees in the Colonial Parkway along the James.

Quercus rysophylla - Loquat Oak
Again, another tree I've only seen at the Virginia Tech Agricultural Research Station. I think the leaves have a nice texture.


Cosmo said...

Hey, Phillip--Happy New Year! What a great list--now you have to come walk around my woods and tell me what I have! I'm busy learning Arizona plants--very few tall trees here.

Phillip M said...

Cosmo, you should start a cactus garden when you get back!

Phillip said...

That sounds like a fun project. I have wanted a sweet bay magnolia for a long time now. I didn't know they got that big! The pine trees are nice too and I wouldn't mind having some of those in my garden just for the pine needles. I'm always driving around town looking for them.

Phillip M said...

If you want a sweetbay you should get one! What's stopping you?

Marty Ross said...

Happy New Year Phillip, you're off to a good start. I have seen some great-looking Daphniphyllum in Norfolk. I bought a Gordonia from the Colonial Nursery last year and so far I am just growing it in a pot (I can't figure out where to plant it); it has a sweet and showy little flower. We have M. virginiana 'Santa Rosa', a terrific selection with glossy leaves and it tolerates a lot of sun. Thanks for visiting my blog, I may pick up the pace in 2009.

walk2write said...

Since you are so knowledgable about trees, I was wondering if you are familiar with contorted mulberry (Morus unryu)? I bought and planted one years ago when we lived in Paducah, KY, and saw it still thriving when we returned to visit the old homestead. It's beautiful for winter interest and sterile so no messy fruit to contend with. I think I ordered it from Wayside, but they apparently do not offer it anymore. The local nurserywoman has never heard of it.

Phillip M said...

W2W, I have not heard of the Morus unryu. I'll have to keep an eye out for it.

queenofseaford said...

Thanks for a nice profile of some of our area trees. It is good to see them as mature specimens to know whether they would work in one's own garden.

Phillip M said...

Wow - I didn't know Seaford had royalty! Thanks!

jhprince said...

Philip, good to see you are working in Williamsburg and a steward of native plants. I have a website now also - and specialize in natives to the coastal plain of the southeast. Pinus palustris is a native of south-central Tidewater, but could see the planting of specimens from Georgia, etc. Norfolk has many palustris pines, as well as Gordonia las. The mild climate in very southeast and central Tidewater is hard to believe for many cool-climate Virginians (Willamsburg and north) and as such many find it hard to believe there are such subtropical natives growing here. When you crawl around the jungles as much as I do one finds interesting plants.
Have not heard much from APSLA lately; guess they've moved on to greener pastures.

Phillip M said...

Thanks for the comments John - nice website!

jhprince said...

Have you been staying busy? I've been somewhat.