Help me choose a specimen tree

July 10, 2019

I am trying to choose a specimen tree for my yard in Maine (zone 5a). I have plenty of space, and this will be in front of a wooded area (far enough in front to stand on its own). I would like a large tree (>30 ft) rather than a smaller ornamental. My requirements are:

-it should be highly ornamental during one or more seasons, particularly either summer flowering or fall foliage or both. I'm not sure which of these to prioritize more highly. Right now I'm drawn to things with flowers, but I can also get flowers from smaller trees, shrubs, and perennials. There are fewer things with great fall foliage, so maybe it's better to prioritize that?

-it should be >30 ft and hardy in zone 5a

-it should be possible to plant within 15 ft of it, as I am planning shrubs to the sides and perennials in front. So, nothing too densely rooted (such as maple - fortunately I have several mature red maples and other places in my yard for sugar maples).

-it doesn't have to be native, but I would prefer something that is indigenous to the eastern US, or at least not invasive or too exotic looking.

Here are some trees I am considering that I would appreciate input on (either pros or cons), and I would welcome other suggestions as well (though I also need help choosing!):

-Black gum - great fall color, native, fruits for wildlife, but no flowers.

-Red horse chestnut - red flowers in early summer, not sure about fall color, not native but a cross with a native buckeye, I think?, or 'Autumn Splendor' horse chestnut, which has both flowers and fall color(!) but not native. It's on the smaller side, 25-35 ft.

-Tulip tree - cool tree, but gets really big, and some say you can't really see the flowers. There's a smaller-growing cultivar, but it seems hard to find. Native to New England. Yellow fall color okay but not great.

-Catalpa - great flowers, not much fall color. Not native here but it is further south.

I'd love to hear your thoughts or additional suggestions. In particular it would be good to know if some of these are hard to plant under because it's hard to find information on that.

Comments (22)

Need help with an existing Houzz order? Call 1-800-368-4268