If you're like me and this scenario sounds disturbingly familiar, not to worry. All you need to do is embrace the knowledge that someday some future owner of your home will be cursing you as they fire up the chainsaw.
In my neighborhood sugar maples, oaks and sycamores tower over modest circa 1940s homes. The street where I live is a dead end that runs from east to west and my house is at the end. On a sunny summer morning, the short drive down the street to my house can often give the illusion that one is leaving the Emerald City and entering the Haunted Forest.
A couple of years ago the house next door to me to the east sold for the first time in 50 plus years. Much to my delight, one of the first projects the new homeowners tackled was tree removal. From the front yard alone they removed four dogwoods, a mature sugar maple, and a mature and declining blue spruce. From the back yard another maple, a huge arborvitae and a diseased black walnut went to the old wood chipper in the sky. A few trees remain on the less than quarter acre lot but sunlight now actually reaches the ground in most spots.
Shade is nice but even shade plants need light to thrive. Whatever my new neighbors spent on tree removal will remain a mystery but the benefit to my garden is priceless. Among the beneficiaries is a tree I selected to satisfy my desire to grow a yellow magnolia.
|Magnolia x 'Sunspire'|
'Sunspire' is a columnar form of Magnolia. Although it will grow tall, it will only grow to be five or six feet wide-a perfect size for gardens like mine where space is at a premium.
Every year I try to get pictures of this tree in bloom that do it justice. For some reason it's incredibly difficult to photograph (at least for a hack like me). Now that I've figured out how to use my camera on manual settings I thought it might be a good time to give it another shot.
If you're wondering why my 'Sunspire' doesn't look all that columnar, blame the freak snow storm we had in October 2011. Although the the weight of the snow didn't snap off branches like it did on some of my other trees, it permanently splayed them out at odd angles. Light pruning last year did little to improve the form. Just when I think I should take it out, it flowers and buys itself another year.
At any rate, if you're on the market for a yellow magnolia, don't live in an area where it can snow in October, don't have an arboretum sized garden, and perhaps don't want to lay awake at night worrying about the chain saw scenario, I highly recommend 'Sunspire'. When I bought this one from Fairweather Gardens seven or eight years ago, they weren't widely available. Now any good woody plant nursery should carry them.