Saturday, May 10, 2014

Impulse and Impact

Oh, ProfessorRoush was a bad boy today.  A very bad boy.  I did the exact thing that every good gardener knows to avoid.  Further, I did it joyfully, happily, and ecstatically, even with full knowledge of the potential mistake that I was making.  I made an impulse buy in the garden center.  At the Home Depot garden center to be exact.   Can you tell what I bought from the photo at the right?

I had ventured forth innocently this afternoon to buy a couple additional cans of Thompson's Water Seal for the concrete patio.  As is my habit in the early days of a new gardening season, I entered Home Depot through the garden center.  I mulled over one of the new "Smooth Touch" thornless roses, but decided to investigate them more before buying any.  I looked for a new S. vulgaris lilac to replace a really ugly forsythia  in the side yard, but I could only find short and squat 'Miss Kim'.  It was then that I noticed a few small trees with this really unusual leaf coloring sitting off to the side.  For the unwashed, this tree, the tree of my dreams, is Fagus sylvatica, the European beech.  And not just any European beech.  No, this is Fagus sylvatica 'Roseo-marginata', also known (incorrectly) as F. sylvatica 'Tricolor'.

I first came across this tree years ago on a family visit to New York City.  I had slipped away for the afternoon to the Bronx with my father and son to visit Wave Hill.  In the midst of that gorgeous public garden, I first fell in love with the dark and brooding Copper Beech (Fagus sylvatica purpurea) shown to the left, but even then I knew better than to place this dark purple blob in the middle of the prairie.  Later on the tour of Wave Hill, however, I came across the Fagus sylvatica 'Tricolor' pictured below and I knew that someday I'd own one.

You would not be wrong to surmise that this tree would be on my bucket list, if I actually had a bucket list.  Yes, I know this is a tree of deep and humid woods and that the tender leaves may burn in the Kansas sun.  Yes, I know that it will do better in partial shade and moist soil and I have neither.  Yes, I know it is slow growing and I likely will not live to see this tree top 30 feet tall.  Who cares?  My $50 impulse buy may not live to see next Spring.  But it is worth every penny to try.

Where to put it?  Where it will be shaded by a Cottonwood?  Down on the flat where the clay is so wet the roses struggle?  High in the front yard where, if it survives, it will be visible for miles around? Imagine.  Just imagine the impact it could have in my garden.  


  1. Congrats on your new acquisition! I saw one in a lovely wooded cemetery back in Northern Indiana years ago and have always thought it would be fun to try to grow one in Kansas. Keep us posted on how yours does.

  2. In full disclosure and since a recent reader, the beech didn't survive a single year here. As I said, though, it was worth it to dream and try.


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