Podcast: Let's Argue About Plants

Episode 157: Flowering Trees for Every Season  

Video by Danielle Sherry and Carol Collins, Edited by Nate Gruca

Due to the size and expense of trees, gardeners tend to put a lot more thought into the ones they ultimately buy for their landscapes. While a perennial might only live for six or seven years, a tree might grace a garden for 50 years or more—perhaps outliving the person who so carefully selected it. Here at Fine Gardening, we feel strongly that trees should look good in more than one season (for all of the reasons above AND because they take up a lot of real estate). Therefore, on today’s episode, we may be highlighting our favorite flowering trees for every season, but these choices have more going for them than just some fleeting blooms. Listen to learn about which trees we’re willing to sacrifice a chunk of our paycheck on and why.   

Amanda Bennett is vice president of horticulture and collections at Atlanta Botanical Gardens in Georgia. 

Danielle’s Plants 

Spring: ‘Don Egolf’ Chinese redbud (Cercis chinensis ‘Don Egolf’, Zones 5b–9)  

‘Don Egolf’ Chinese redbud
Spring: ‘Don Egolf’ Chinese redbud

Summer: ‘Milk and Honey’ Japanese stewartia (Stewartia pseudocamellia ‘Milk and Honey’, Zones 5–7) 

 ‘Milk and Honey’ Japanese stewartia
Summer: ‘Milk and Honey’ Japanese stewartia with pollinators aplenty

Fall color on stewartia

Autumn: Red Balloon® viburnum (Viburnum × rhytidophylloides ‘Redell’, Zones 4–8) 

Red Balloon® viburnum
Autumn: Red Balloon® viburnum

Winter: ‘Pink Perfection’ camellia (Camellia japonica ‘Pink Perfection’, Zones 7–10) 

'Pink Perfection' camellia
Winter: ‘Pink Perfection’ camellia

Carol’s Plants  

Spring: ‘Wada’s Memory’ magnolia (Magnolia × kewensis ‘Wada’s Memory’, Zones 5–8) 

'Wada's Memory' magnolia
Spring: ‘Wada’s Memory’ magnolia, recently featured in a Mid-Atlantic regional report

Summer: sourwood (Oxydendrum arboreum, Zones 5–9) 

Summer: Sourwood habit. Photo: courtesy of Famartin via Wikimedia

Sourwood, flower
Sourwood, flower. Photo: courtesy of Kwaśnodrzew Amerykańsk via Wikimedia

Autumn: seven-son flower (Heptacodium miconioides, Zones 5-9) 

Seven-son flower,
Autumn: seven-son flower (habit)

Seven-son flower
Seven-son flower (flower)

Winter: ‘Sweet Sunshine’ witch hazel (Hamamelis × intermedia ‘Sweet Sunshine’) 

‘Sweet Sunshine’ witch hazel
Winter: ‘Sweet Sunshine’ witch hazel, with Adam Wheeler for scale


Expert’s Plants  

Winter:  Yunnan magnolia (Magnolia laevifolia syn. M. yunanensis, Zones 8b–11) 

Yunnan magnolia
Winter:  Yunnan magnolia. Photo: courtesy of Ideachick via Wikimedia Commons

Spring: two-winged silverbell  (Halesia diptera, Zones 6–9)

Two-winged silverbell
Two-winged silverbell. Photo: courtesy of Daderot via Wikimedia Commons

Summer: Japanese stewartia (Stewartia pseudocamellia, Zones 5–8) 

Japanese stewartia
Summer: Japanese stewartia

Fall: common witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana, Zones 3–9) 

Common witch hazel
Fall: common witch hazel. Photo: courtesy of Doug McGrady via Wikimedia Commons



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