Weeping and Contorted Trees



I guess we are just twisted. Somehow we have accumulated a nice selection of weeping and contorted trees. Let me introduce you to some garden-worthy specimens beyond Harry Lauders Walking Stick and the Weeping Yaupon Holly. Don’t get me wrong- both are must –haves, at least in my garden, but there is so much more out there.

Walker’s Siberian Pea Shrub Caragana arborescens ‘Walker’
This stiffly weeping specimen was selected by Dr. John Walker of the Morden Arboretum Research Station in Manitoba Canada in 1975. It has been grafted onto an upright standard because it would simply crawl along the ground otherwise. The branches have the curious ability to grow quickly downward only to slow down when nearing the ground. This allows for easy under-planting. The foliage is light green and very feathery. Yellow flowers appear in early spring. It looks great planted in front of dark green evergreens or a white wall. The pea shrub is perfect for a restricted area or a pot as it grows verry slowly, becoming only 6 feet tall and wide over a period of years. This is a full sun plant up North but could probably use some shade from the heat of the day here. Make sure it has good drainage.

Weeping Kousa Dogwood Cornus kousa Kousa dogwoods are disease resistant and once established pretty care free. This weeping selection has bright white flowers in spring overlaying the pretty green ribbed leaves. It also has handsome fruit and excellent red, orange and yellow fall color. This is a softly mounding plant which will become 15 feet tall and wide over a period of 30 years or so.

Autumn Cascades Weeping Black Gum Nyssa sylvatica ‘Autumn Cascades’
Autumn Cascades seems to be more spreading than heavily weeping. The leaves are an extremely glossy bright green. In fall it turns a truly spectacular brilliant red. Black Gums, or Tupelos, are native to the east coast of North America. No, they are not Sweet Gums and do not scatter prickly little balls all over your yard. They are fine with our clay soils, have few diseases or pests and are drought tolerant when established. This will probably be a fairly large tree, becoming 30 feet tall and wide over time. Oddly, this native came back to us via Australia, where it was discovered as a chance seedling by Arnold Teese, owner of Yamina Rare Plants, and introduced in the United States by Dick Jaynes of Broken Arrow Nursery.

Zydeco Twist Black Gum Nyssa sylvatica ‘Zydeco Twist’
Black Gum, Black Tupelo, Sourgum, whatever you want to call it, Zydeco Twist is truly unique. The branches make angular bends and turns while spreading horizontally from the trunk. It has the glossy foliage and spectacular fall color of all of its brethren. It is not picky about soil and even tolerates damp areas and is fine with full sun to part shade. The Twist will make a nice sized tree, reaching 20 feet tall by 15 feet wide, probably more with time. This form was found by Sherwood Akin of Sibley, Louisiana, a long time plantsman who passed in 2008 at almost 90 years of age.

Continue reading- Part II of this article can be found here.