This garden is wonderful in the spring. Long before the foliage appears, flowers ranging from white, pink and red burst into glory. The crabapples, of course, are the stars of the show. Here are some of my favorites. The Golden Raindrop Crabapple Malus transitoria ‘Schmidt Cutleaf’ has a nice vase shape with deeply cut leaves, turning yellow orange in the fall. Spring brings white star-like flowers with a bright yellow center followed by tiny golden-yellow fruits that last well into the winter. The Louisa Crabapple Malus ‘Louisa’ is awesome because of its unique weeping habit and very showy red flower buds that open to pink flowers in spring. Dark green glossy leaves are a nice backdrop for small yellow brown fruit in the fall, while, its red cast stems are breathtaking with a backdrop of white snow. Last ,but certainly not least, the Prairiefire Crabapple Malus ‘Prairiefire’ presents a four-season extravaganza. First, prolific, intense pinkish-red blooms are borne in spring. The purplish emerging foliage of spring matures to reddish green in summer. Fall brings a display of red, orange, purple leaves accompanied by glossy red fruit. The fruit will persist into winter and look bright when it is dreary. Crabapples are abundant in Crab Cove, but there are also other plants that are pretty amazing.
For much of the summer, the Tamarisk Tamarix africanus produces feathery pink panicles atop an almost transparent or open shrub. With beautiful bluish-green airy foliage, this shrub grows to about 6-10 feet in height. The Sargent’s Weeping Canadian Hemlock Tsuga canadensis ‘Sargentii’ is a very attractive evergreen. This weeping cultivar grows low to the ground and has a spreading habit and unique form. The cones and buds are typically small and very useful for making a holiday wreath. This tree looks great next to the yews and rain drop crabapple. It also looks amazing with its weeping form when the snow has fallen.
We have two wonderful Japanese Maples flanking the sidewalk as you walk south, toward the tennis courts. A lovely small Japanese Maple Acer shirasawanum ‘Autumn Moon’ is a bold element with a quiet elegance in the garden. The tree leafs out in the spring with golden yellow foliage with orange – red tones which turns a brighter orange in the fall. Across the sidewalk to the west of Crabapple Cove is an amazing Ever Red Japanese Maple Acer palmatum ‘Ever Red’. This tree is a highly ornamental plant with a weeping shrub like form. Its foliage, emerging bright crimson, has an incredible deep red fall color.
At the east end of Crab Cove, Bittersweet Celastrus scandens, a vine valued for a beautiful orange-red fruit display in autumn, covers a large section of the fence and screens the parking lot. At the foot of the Bittersweet, a bed of /English Ivy is underplanted with spring- flowering Daffodil and Squill. In the fall, we are pleased and excited to see the purple of Colchicum and Fall Crocus emerge, popping up through the ivy. These wonderful fall-blooming bulbs, both flowering in September or October, are very hardy but have to be planted in August or early September. Colchicum, generally bigger than the Fall Crocus, have lavender or white flowers; while the Fall Crocus have blue, yellow, white, lavender or pink blooms.
Lastly, the Fernleaf Beech Fagus sylvatica ‘asplenifolia’ is named for its dark green cut-leaf foliage, which turns a rich golden brown in the fall. As the leaves drop in the fall, they form a delicate copper veil over the lawn, surrounding the tree. The branches are closely layered and fan-like, adding to the tree's graceful appearance. It is tall and broad spreading, reaching a height of 50’ and a 40’ spread. In my opinion, this tree is definitely one of the finest trees in the collection; in the Midwest, you rarely see Fernleaf Beeches of this size. If you come to the Garden, it is a definite must-see!