Jim Weeks lives on Grand Lake O’ The Cherokees and is the author of three books and numerous freelance stories.

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Trees for Winter Interest
by Jim Weeks       #Trees   #Winter

 Bark is beautiful. Berries are also beautiful.

So says Dr. Leonard O. Miller, who suggests selecting and planting items for winter interest.

Betula platyphylla


Ilex verticillata


Acer davidii


Acer grissum



Dr. Miller is the developer of Lendonwood Gardens in Grove, Okla., and donated the property to a nonprofit corporation in January 1997.

Lendonwood Gardens is at its peak in the spring and summer. Visitors will find several major collections of plants. Lendonwood is home to one of the largest collections of false cypress (Chamaecyparis) in the United States. Similar to red cedar, the evergreen Chamaecyparisis native to Japan, Taiwan, Canada and the United States. In addition, Lendonwood has the largest collection of rhododendrons in the Southwest, adding drama and color in April and May each year.

The gardens feature 25 varieties of dogwoods, more than 50 bonsai, 75 varieties of Japanese maples and 70 varieties of hostas. With more than 500 varieties of daylilies (Hemerocallis), Lendonwood has been designated a display garden for the American Hemerocallis Society and is part of the Oklahoma Botanical Garden system.

Japanese maples add radiant color in the first week of November. In fact, Dr. Miller placed one of his favorite Japanese maples within sight of the front gate to add to the entrance of the garden.


Fall and Winter Appeal

But Dr. Miller contends that the gardens also are beautiful during the fall and winter.

“Evergreens and colorful Japanese maples give your garden a season-ending punch,” said Dr. Miller. “Add fall berry plants and you extend the color well into December. Ilex verticillata, also known as winterberry, forms a small tree with red berries that shine throughout the fall and winter.”

Here are some ideas that Lendonwood Gardens uses to brighten the winter, and Dr. Miller suggests adding to your garden.

• Asian white birch or Japanese white birch (Betula platyphylla japonica) is characterized by flesh-colored bark with black lenticels (lens-shaped spots). The brown limbs have a two-toned effect with white lenticels. Yellow fall color. Moderate to rapid growth to 40-50 feet. Sun to partial shade, prefers moist to well-drained soil.

• ‘Natchez’ Lagerstroemiax faurieiis characterized with brown bark and patches of white bark. Grows to 25 to 30 feet tall and 15 to 25 feet wide. Normally yellow but sometimes red fall color. Needs loam or clay soil and sun.

• Himalayan birch (Betula utilis) is characterized by its white peeling bark. Birches grow in a variety of soils and can withstand both saturated water and drought. Himalayan birch grows to 15 feet tall and 15 feet wide in 10 years and will mature at 60 to 75 feet tall.

• Acer davidiiis a maple tree that has white and green stripes that promotes the more common name of snakebark. It is a large deciduous shrub that grows to 5 to 10 feet tall. Some of its leaves persist late into the fall. Flowers range from pink, red, purple and white. Its bark and yellow color are its best attributes.

Cornus kousais characterized by tan and dark brown bark that forms in varying patterns. It matures to 20 to 30 feet, has a white flower, dark green foliage and red to maroon color in the fall.

Acer griseumis described as a paperbark maple because of its peeling. Its leaves turn a radiant red in the fall, and it is one of the most beautiful maples native to China.

• Acer buergerianumis another maple tree that features flaking brown and tan bark, native to Korea, China and Japan. This trident maple is grown in many parts of the world as a street tree due to its tolerance of pruning, dry soil and air pollution.

• Metasequoia glyptostroboidesis a huge tree that features shaggy cinnamon-brown bark. The dawn redwood is a deciduous conifer with a feathery texture. It was considered extinct until it was found in the 1940s in China. It was native to North America until the Pleistocene era and is now considered a living relic. It can grow as much as 5 feet in a year and can reach 75 feet tall.

• Winterberry’s (Ilex verticillata) red berries also provide a bright red color during the winter months. This is a native holly with upright, spreading stems reaching up to 10 feet in height. Clusters of white flowers appear in April and May, producing deep red berries which last through the winter. Winterberry is dioecious, having male and female flowers, requiring at least one male shrub for every three or four female specimens.



Acer japonicum
‘O isami’ provides wonderful color to the garden in the fall.


Acer palmatum
‘Omurayama’ likes a protected site for added orange and red fall color.


From Oklahoma Gardener, Volume 2, Number 9


Posted: 12/20/10   RSS | Print


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