Owing to their varied colorings, a word of caution is needed concerning the use of flowering trees. If your house is a neutral shade such as gray, white, tan, or yellow, you can use just about any color flower with it. But if it is of red brick, or is painted red, pink, or some other color, exercise great care in choosing plants with colored foliage or flowers that will be seen against it. If you own a red brick house, and want to use red azaleas in the rear where they would be seen only by someone looking from the house out across the lawn, there would be no reason for not doing so.
A pink magnolia (M. Soulangeana), would hardly be in good taste if used in a front yard where it and a red brick house would be seen at the same time; in such circumstances, trees with white flowers are safer. The flowering habits of such trees sometimes pose problems for the gardener. One of the most common causes of poor crops of flowers or none at all in an otherwise normal tree is the practice of over-fertilizing it. A plant too heavily fed produces mostly stem and leaf growth and few, if any, flower buds.
There is another group of small trees that are used for the ornamental effect of unusual color of their foliage (or, sometimes, bark).
The purple-leaved plum (Prunus pissardi), the red-leaved Japanese maples (Acer palmatum in var. ), the purple-leaved beeches (Fagus in variety), and the Ely Crab (Malus eleyi) are examples.
Because the value of such trees for ornamental purposes is due to their striking foliage, they should be used with care, in relation both to the color of the house and to the color of other trees that may bloom at the same time. Their contrasting colors are very spectacular and should be used with restraint. In the average home garden there is usually room for but one, and one of the best ways to use it is as a free standing specimen on the lawn. It could, at the same time, frame some particular garden detail such as a gate, a bench, or a break in the garden enclosure left open to frame a distant view. On the other hand, a specimen tree with branches and foliage all the way to the ground might serve to hide some objec tionable object beyond.
A by-product of these ornamental trees is the fact that branches can be used effectively for indoor flower arrangements with anthurium plant. But view the cutting of such branches as a form of pruning; this may call for the removal of larger branches than are required for the flowers alone.
Another occasional use of such trees is as espaliers, i.e., trained to grow against a wall. This is especially true of the magnolias, crabapples, and flowering peach trees. They need not be trained as exactly as is done by commercial fruit growers of Europe, but can be used to cover up wall spaces in an informal manner simply by careful pruning and the tying of selected branches to the wall so that they can grow in a more or less normal fashion. Of course, there are places where formally trained espalier plants are very useful.
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