Moonglow magnolia

3 small trees for the landscape

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Bigger isn’t always better. It might be a cliche, but it’s one that certainly applies to trees. Though mature oaks and maples are gorgeous, sometimes there isn’t room for a sixty-foot tall hardwood in the garden. If you’re looking for a few small trees for your landscape, here are three great choices. 

Our favorite small trees:

Sweetbay Magnolia ‘Moonglow’ (Magnolia virginiana ‘Moonglow’) is one of my favorite small trees for the landscape. This beautiful tree is multi-stemmed and bears creamy white flowers throughout the spring and summer (that’s one of the flowers in the feature photo). At dusk, the flowers release an irresistible sweet scent. This cultivar of a North American native tree tolerates wet soil and prefers full to partial sun. Its semi-evergreen habit is an added bonus!

small trees Fringe tree

The cascading flower clusters of fringe tree are a beautiful spring sight.

Fringe tree (Chionanthus virginicus) is another native tree that’s perfect for small spaces. Gorgeous clusters of white flowers drape off the tree in late spring. They’re followed by dark blue fruits that are adored by the birds. Fringe tree can be multi-stemmed or have a single trunk. They’re perfect for smaller backyards.

Related post: Berries for the birds

Red buckeye flowers

The flowers of the red buckeye are a hummingbird magnet.

The red horse chestnut (Aesculus x carnea) is a hybrid between the European horse chestnut and our native red buckeye. I love this stunning tree almost as much as the hummingbirds do. Growing only thirty feet tall, the red horse chestnut blooms in May and is suited to shadier locations as well as those in full sun. I have the cultivar ‘Briotii’ which is said to have the best coloration of all the varieties and also the most resistance to fungal diseases.

Related post: Attracting hummingbirds to the garden

What are your favorite small trees? 

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7 Responses to 3 small trees for the landscape

  1. Great post on small trees. We can do magnolia’s but I have not heard of a Red Horse chestnut. Very pretty but probably would not fair well in Houston. I like to use fringe trees in designs, especially when there are views from windows. My two favorite small trees are the Purple Montrose Vitex and the Forest Pansy Redbud. I am new to your site…got to meet some of the contributors last week in Toronto : ) Happy Gardening!

    • Thanks, Laurin. I love redbuds, too. And ‘Forest Pansy’ is a real beauty. I think you’re right about the red horse chestnut not liking the heat of Houston. But, if it provides any solace, Vitex seldom survives the winter here in Pennsylvania. 🙂

  2. Celia says:

    Hello, I’ve been searching for Sweetbay Magnolia Moonglow in Canada for several months. I’m in the Toronto area and haven’t found any local nurseries able to get it or online nurseries that can ship it to me. I’d appreciate any suggestions. Thanks!

    • Hi Celia. Let me check with our Canadian contributors and see if they have any ideas as to where you can get a ‘Moonglow’ in Canada. I’ll post their reply here asap. Thanks!

  3. Carol Papas says:

    Stewartia pseudocamellia 1. blooms in the summer 2. great fall color and 3. nice bark. Love your choices too! The scent of magnolia is so wonderful.

  4. Candace St. Onge says:

    Any suggestions for a very narrow (14 inches) x 20 foot space. This is below a concrete wall that we’d like to cover (@10 feet tall). Are there any real narrow trees or shrubs that would work in full sun in Ct.? Thanks.

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