Last time we featured Dr. Michael Dirr’s shrub crawl.  In addition to shrubs we also talked with Dr. Dirr about trees, specifically noble trees.  In an article from Penn State Extension, Dr. Dirr defines noble trees as “anything that spans generations, has a long life, supports wildlife, fixes CO2, spits out oxygen, prevents erosion, increases property values, something that’s inherent in our everyday life.”  In his popular presentation “In Praise of Noble Trees”  he also mentions traits like “immense in stature”, so much so that one can support a tree house or offer a climbing challenge.

Kindred Spirit® Upright Oak ‘Nadler’So we are talking about the familiar maples (Acer), oaks (Quercus), and elms (Ulmus), to towering redwooods, (Sequoia, Sequoiadendron, Metasequoia) and many, many others, all of which are stunning, but can require a great deal of space.  Dr. Dirr noted that as property sizes decrease in urban areas, “there is a pressing need for smaller trees (height and width).”  He uses the term “noblette” for smaller tree selections, they do not possess that immense presence, but have many of the other characteristics and functional attributes.

In the spirit of the noble tree, that can be considered for a smaller space, we bring you a specific oak, the Kindred Spirit® ‘Nadler’ oak cultivar.  It is pictured here and has quite the unique shape.  This tree is about 35 years old.  It is over 30 feet tall and under 8 feet wide!  It is its width that makes it more functional for smaller spaces.

This is a hybrid that Earl Cully selected.  One of its parents is an upright English oak, botanically Quercus robur ‘Fastigiata’.  Fastigiata is Latin for fastigiate, a botanical term for a close, upright branching structure.  You might also hear the term columnar, which is similar though with a central leader and short side branches.  Columnar forms also have a flat top, resembling an actual column.

There are many trees that offer an upright or columnar form, from the familiar to the really special, like the tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera) we featured in a previous post.  The image below, from the Chicago Botanic Garden, shows upright European beech, Fagus sylvatica‘Fastigiata’ (three trees on the left), and Pyramidal American Arborvitae, Thuja occidentalisPyramidalis’ (on the right, behind the bench).

Upright Erupean Beech and Pyramidal American Arborvitae

We will go into more detail on the shapes and descriptors of these types of trees in our next post.  We will also have many cultivars for you to consider, and design ideas in the hopes you can incorporate these distinct specimens, because trees are so valuable to both a landscape design and those enjoying it.  Join us again, here, in the garden.

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Seattle Rockeries creates hardscapes and landscapes using stones, boulders and concrete structures.

Hardscaping creates structures that can be used on slopes and hills to prevent erosion and create water barriers or drainage.