New Trees for the Patio
June 3, 2019
The brick patio just outside the DNR Headquarters building is a popular site with both visitors and DNR employees, providing a pleasant seating area overlooking the pond at the center of Tawes Garden. For some years it was partially shaded by 6 Black Locust trees. However, those trees eventually declined in health and in the fall of 2018 the decision was made to remove them.
After due consideration, the Friends and the DNR Garden Staff chose to replace them with 6 American Hop Hornbeams (Ostrya virginiana). A small-to-medium deciduous tree native to the East Coast, Hop Hornbeam offers a graceful form, leaves similar to birch (to which it's related), rather shaggy bark, and yellow leaf color in fall. It's unusual name derives from two sources: "Hornbeam" for its extremely dense, hard wood, and "Hop" for its flowers, which resemble those of the hop vine--although they're not used for brewing beer.
While quietly attractive, Hop Hornbeam isn't one of our showier native trees and doesn't yet have a lot of name recognition among gardeners. However, it is steadily gaining a reputation as a desirable street tree owing to its toughness and ability to thrive in less-than-ideal situations.
The 6 specimens planted in 2019 will need a few years before they reach their full potential to provide shade for people enjoying the patio, but we'll be watching them grow with interest and anticipation.