It seems as though drought is the new norm in Colorado. Last year we had a Stage 1 drought; this year we had a Stage 2. So when we Coloradans hear about trees that thrive in hot, arid conditions, our ears perk up. When those trees are also gorgeous, we get downright excited.
Three trees that thrill water-conscious homeowners are the Hot Wings® tartarian maple, golden raintree and Clear Creek® golden yellowhorn.
Hot Wings® tartarian maple, lovingly referred to as Acer tataricum ‘GarAnn’ PP 15,023, displays showy red samaras (those “helicopters” containing seeds) all summer long. You can use this versatile specimen not only in hot, dry areas, but also next to patios and under utility lines. The tree will eventually grow 25 to 30 feet high and wide. As for fall color, it ranges from ranges from yellow to orange-red.
Golden raintree (Koelreuteria paniculata) is so tough that it thrives in a parking lot island at Denver’s Eugene Field library. You can use this plant next to patios and paths, under utility lines or simply as a focal point in your landscape. In early to mid-summer, golden raintree rewards gardeners with panicles (pyramidal, loosely branched clusters) of bright yellow flowers. The flowers then give way to brown seed pods that resemble small Chinese lanterns. The plant will grow 25 to 30 feet high and wide.
Clear Creek® golden yellowhorn (Xanthoceras sorbifolium ‘Psgan’) offers feathery green foliage, bright white spring flowers and brilliant yellow fall color. As a bonus, the tree also produces pods with edible seeds that reportedly taste somewhat like macadamia nuts when roasted. You can grow this plant as either a tree or a shrub and use it hot, dry areas, such as the west side of your house,as well as under utility lines. The tree will reach a size of 18-22 feet high and 10 to 15 feet wide at maturity. The yellowhorn is difficult to find in Denver-area nurseries, but I did find a small one at Echter’s Nursery & Garden Center yesterday.
If you would like more information on tree selection, you can read my Denver Post story, “Choose Tough Trees for Tough Spots in West’s landscapes,” at http://www.denverpost.com/grow/ci_23301547/choose-tough-trees-tough-spots-wests-landscapes?IADID=Search-www.denverpost.com-www.denverpost.com. Or if you live in the Denver area, you can attend my free workshop, “Right Tree, Right Place: Choosing a Tree for Your Landscape,” from 3 to 4pm Sunday, August 11, at the Schlessman Family Branch Library, 100 Poplar Street, in Denver.