Halesia carolina

2006 – Carolina Silverbell

The silverbell is considered to be one of the best native trees for shady sites. It is a low-branching tree best used in shade or woodland gardens where it can reach heights of 30-40 feet with a spread of 20-35 feet. The silverbell prefers moist, well-drained, humus-rich soil.

The Carolina silverbell is another plant that provides year-round interest. In spring, before the leaves emerge, clusters of bell-shaped, white flowers bloom on the previous year’s growth. In fall, the leaves become golden yellow and persist for two to three weeks and, when they drop, unveil the winged seed pods that dangle from the branches. The bark which, on younger trees, is dark with light yellow stripes provides winter interest.

Ilex opaca

2005 – American Holly

The American Holly is a native evergreen tree that can grow to 60 feet. It has plenty to offer throughout the year, but is most spectacular in winter when its dark green leaves and red, berry-like fruits provide wonderful color and contrast to an otherwise leafless landscape. These traits also make the American holly a popular choice for use in holiday decorations. They are dioecious (having separate male and female plants) and only females can produce berries, thus requiring a male plant for pollination. Though toxic to humans, the berries are an important food source for many native wildlife including squirrels, chipmunks, foxes, raccoons, box turtles and several species of songbirds.

An understory tree, the American Holly grows well in shade, but planting it in more sunny locations will allow for denser foliage. These trees can tolerate extreme pruning and can be cut back to suit anyone’s vision.

Asimina triloba

2004 – Common Pawpaw

The pawpaw is one of the more exotic looking trees native to this region. This understory tree was once common across our landscape but years of clearcutting have all but removed it from its natural setting. It is prized for a combination of traits that give it all-season interest. In May, it displays showy, deep reddish-purple flowers that give rise to large, custard-like edible fruits by the end of summer. It is in its full glory in fall as the green leaves change to bright yellow.

Grown in moist, well-drained, fertile soil, the pawpaw spreads to form a grove. It has soft wood and needs protection from the wind, making it an excellent choice as a woodland edge tree. Planting these trees in full sun will enhance their fall color and allow for greater fruit production.

Cercis canadensis

2003 – Eastern Redbud
The eastern redbud is a small, deciduous tree reaching heights of 20 to 30 feet with an equal spread. It is often multi-stemmed and has heart-shaped leaves, but perhaps its most noteworthy attribute is the abundance of pinkish flowers that adorn the branches before the leaves appear in the spring. There are, however, several cultivars that are prized for other attributes including the purple-leaved ‘Forest Pansy’, the variegated ‘Silver Cloud’, and the white-blooming ‘Royal White’.

Able to grow in both sun and shade, redbuds are effective as forest edge trees or front yard specimens. They are somewhat susceptible to insect and disease pests but can be kept healthy with regular watering and fertilization.