by Ken Lain, The Mountain Gardener, Watters Garden Center
It’s been over 78 years since I lost an uncle in Europe during World War II, but his memory is strong within our family. Stories live on about the last time the family saw him before he headed off to that fateful day and details of his bravery. Because of these memories, I hope to travel and see his gravesite someday.
At the Lain house we like to remind ourselves of those who have made differences in our lives. In addition to memorials for people, we especially love to plant a tree in memory of the animals in our lives, especially our dogs. You will know the canine memorial trees in our yard by the collars hanging from their branches.
Remembering family members is essential, and planting a memorial tree is the perfect token of remembrance. No matter which month commemorates that special someone, Watters is featuring the perfect trees for memorials. Each is the variety that looks its best in a specific remembrance month.
Here are the trees chosen for each month of the year. See all 12 on Watters Pinterest board, or visit us at the garden center.
January – Austrian Pine: Remarkably tolerant of hot and cold mountain wind and a crucial component in shelterbelts and windbreaks. Adapts well to dry conditions of Arizona, both in semidesert and mountain foothill regions where soils are thin and poor. Makes a very graceful single specimen for front yards, parks or expansive estate-sized landscapes.
February – Aspen: A superior tree for cold Arizona regions. It’s most attractive in groves, but will stand alone as a columnar tree in the suburban environment. The tall narrow form is ideal for filling gaps between tall buildings. An excellent foreground tree against the dark background of evergreen conifers.
March – Thunder Cloud Purple Plum: Delivers a storm of color. In spring it bursts with a surge of pink blossoms, reminiscent of a cherry tree in full bloom. As the flowers fade, royal purple leaves emerge as a shade tree for the summer. The purple leaves remain in contrast against the jewel-box yellows and reds of other autumn leaves.
April – Crabapple: An outstanding flowering tree with an upright form that becomes rounded with age. Reddish new foliage matures to dark green. Lovely deep pink flowers produce persistent, small, dark red-purple fruit. A colorful accent for smaller landscapes.
May – Purple Robe Locust: Grows just about anywhere you plant it. You can count on hundreds of purple wisteria flower to cover this tree every Mother’s Day holiday, filling yards with a heavenly scent bound to bring back memories.
June – Golden Locust: Proven as hardy street and shade trees, fast-growing, heat and drought tolerant and well-suited for the demands of mountain landscapes. New spring growth is bright yellow maturing to green and then back to autumn golds.
July – Mountain Magnolia: Lustrous, leathery foliage is rich, dark green above and cinnamon brown underneath. Large, 5- to 6-inch creamy white flowers are exotically fragrant. A hardier magnolia that transplants well and does not lose as many leaves as other varieties.
August – Birch: Far superior in heat and drought tolerance to Aspen. Densely pyramidal form with glossy green leaves that fade to clear yellow in autumn. Planted as a large tree as focal point that shades its surroundings. Its natural white bark is ideal around water gardens and dry streams.
September – Gingko: Leaves are an exciting fan shape that flutter in the slightest breeze that turn brilliant golden in fall. Gingko trees have been known to live 1,000+ years and have grown in gardens since the dinosaurs.
October – Blazing Red Maple: Shows off in brilliant, long-lasting, red fall foliage. This upright form has the perfect branch habit and is super-fast growing. The fastest growing of the red maples.
November – Aristocrat Pear: Bridal white flowers in spring are followed by disease-resistant glossy green leaves with a unique wavy edge. The last tree that turns red in autumn.
December – Fat Albert Spruce: A superb evergreen conifer with rich blue needles on a densely branched, naturally pyramidal form. A fantastic choice for use as a living Christmas tree.
Aqua Boost Crystals – Consistent water is the secret to spectacular trees. If your plant is even a bit dry, they sacrifice foliage to keep the core of the plant healthy. Sprinkle two tablespoons of ‘Aqua Boost Crystals’ at the bottom of each planting hole. Add more crystals just below the soil’s surface to keep plants evenly moist and continually growing. These exceptionally absorbent crystals regulate the moisture to each tree, encouraging more substantial roots for longer lasting leaves and a better tree canopy. I never plant without a little Aqua Boost for each new plant in the garden.
Until next issue, I’ll be helping local gardeners choose just the right tree to remember their loved ones here at Watters Garden Center.