As I drove to work this morning down from the highest point in Manhattan (a small hill called "Top of the World" overlooking the river valley the city sets in), I was suddenly struck by a vista of endless white trees sticking up over and around the roofs of all the houses. Manhattan in Spring, it seems, is a monoculture sea of spring-flowering trees that makes it appear as if the very city itself was drowning in a tub of foamy soap bubbles.
I blame this sensory overload on the local landscapers, professional and amateur, who were planting 'Bradford' pear trees (Pyrus calleryana) ad infinitum twenty years back, and who, when Bradfords proved too weak for the Kansas winds, turned to the stronger 'Chanticleer' pear trees, or 'Snowdrift' and "Spring Snow' crabapples. You would think that in an area where Eastern Redbuds (Cercis canadensis) grow as a native understory tree there might be more use made of them in the landscape. You would think that landscapers could choose randomly from a number of KSU-recommended crabapples, many of which happen to be something other than white (such as pink 'PrairieFire' or magenta 'Radiant'). There are pink-flowering ornamental peach trees, pink cherry trees, scarlet Hawthorns, dogwoods, and even a few purplish or yellow Magnolias that will survive here. In contrast, I know of only a few tree-size Magnolias that survive in town, all of them white.
I don't have anything particularly against planting white-flowering trees. My rebellious nature kicks in when white is the only choice and when the planted trees all bloom white and simultaneously. Landscape architects are seemingly as bad in this regard as they are in using purple barberry and 'Stella de Oro' daylilies to excess. Have they no imagination?
In my own yard, I could actually use a few more white-flowering trees. I've got a 'Royalty' purple-pink crab, a pink 'Red Barron' crab, a 'PrairieFire' crab, a red peach, a Scarlet Hawthorne, and a bright yellow Magnolia (to be featured in a few days) that all are blooming now or will bloom soon. My only currently-blooming white trees are an honest-to-god fruiting apricot tree and a Star Magnolia (Magnolia stellata). Neither of the latter really matter as white trees because orchard trees don't count and the Magnolia stellata is still too short to see. Maybe someday I'll fall into lockstep with the herd, but for now, I'm just going to keep being a pink blight on the white horizon.