Monday, January 26, 2015

Spotlight on the native redbud

Our native redbud is getting more popular, thanks to the tree-planting programs so active in the city and region. Salutes to them, really. They are making such a difference. I'm seeing redbuds and other great street trees all over my neighborhood and others in my travels. Not so many Bradford pears anymore, though they were the rage in the '80s.

Spotlight on the native redbud

Our native redbud is getting more popular, thanks to the tree-planting programs so active in the city and region. Salutes to them, really. They are making such a difference. I'm seeing redbuds and other great street trees all over my neighborhood and others in my travels. Not so many Bradford pears anymore, though they were the rage in the '80s.

Bradford pears, which are nonnative, turned out to be problematic on several fronts, including the fact that at a certain point, they start falling apart. They have "weak wood." And they're susceptible to disease, although they're not the only street tree this is true of. They are pretty in spring, no question, and remain an extremely popular tree for roadsides, homes and municipalities.

But the Eastern redbud is gaining ground as an alternative choice, something that was brought home to me by Steve Wright, the aforementioned curator of plant collections at Jenkins Arboretum. He's in my story tomorrow saying that he loves all the redbud choices out there now, including the one pictured here - a so-called (because it still looks pink to me) red redbud! It's outstanding against a solid-green background.

I like the fact that the blossoms line the branches before the leaves even open. Redbuds aren't particularly longlived, which is one of the complaints about the Bradford pear, and they're not disease-free, either. Maybe it's that look that triumphs over all.

Virginia A. Smith Inquirer Staff Writer
About this blog
Ginny Smith, a Philadelphia native, joined the Inquirer at 1985. After stints as both reporter and editor in the city and suburbs, she’s been happily writing – and learning - about gardening full time since 2006. She’s won two silver medals of achievement from the national Garden Writers Association and in 2011, Bartram’s Garden honored her with its Green Exemplar award for her stories about “the region’s deeply rooted horticultural history, cultural attractions and bountiful gardens.” She plays in her own – mostly - bountiful garden in East Falls. Reach Virginia A. at vsmith@phillynews.com .

Virginia A. Smith Inquirer Staff Writer
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