Ornamental and decorative trees bring interest to the landscape garden through their flowers, foliage and overall form. Though most trees flower in the spring, many of them have small, undistinguished displays of color. Flowering ornamental trees are usually small to medium size with bold, splashy displays of color. Other types of decorative trees are selected for the color and shape of their leaves.
The right species of ornamental tree in the right place makes a distinctive focal point in the home landscape. Some species of ornamentals work better for naturalizing or as a backdrop for the showier species. Here are a few of the best decorative trees for Ontario.
There are several species of dogwoods native to Ontario, and they all make great ornamentals. Cornus florida, flowering dogwood, is the most recognized of the group. It’s full, beautiful white flowers, seen in this photo, row 1column 3 are a sure sign that spring has arrived. Pagoda dogwood, Cornus alternifolia, looks very similar; at first glance, you may not notice a difference. Both of these small trees will flower more if they have full sun or only light shade.
Pink flowering varieties of Cornus florida are very popular with homeowners. Everything else about the tree is the same, but the flowers are a medium shade of pink with tinges of white. Again, full sun will help with flower production.
Eastern redbud, Cercis canadensis, is another Ontario native. It’s flowers range from light pink to magenta; they pop out in spring just before the dogwoods. Large, heart-shaped leaves emerge after the flowers. The overall appearance of a redbud tree is not as refined as most of the other trees on this list, but they are worth having for their flowers alone. A drift of flowering redbud trees across the edge of the woods in early spring is a beautiful sight.
3. Golden Chain Tree
Golden chain tree, Laburnum anagyroides, is named for its spectacular, hanging yellow flowers. A little pickier about growing conditions than dogwoods and redbuds, golden chain trees are worth planting if you are a fan of their flowers. The rest of the year, they tend to blend in with the rest of the trees in your yard.
4. Japanese Maple
Japanese maples, Acer palmatum, are some of the most distinct and recognizable ornamental trees for the home landscape. Known for their distinctive form and foliage rather than their flowers, Japanese maples come in a variety of sizes and colours with differing leaf shapes. A medium size, red Japanese maple is shown here.
This multi-stemmed specimen has been limbed up to allow smaller ornamentals to be planted close by. In general, Japanese maples work best as single accents or focal points as opposed to being planted in groups or rows.
5. Blue Spruce
The other tree on this list selected for its foliage is Colorado blue spruce, Picea pungens. An evergreen tree, blue spruce makes an effective visual screen or backdrop for flowering species. Though it’s a slow grower, blue spruce can eventually get quite large. Foliage color may vary; some varieties are bluer than others. Colorado blue spruce makes a nice Christmas tree, but you probably won’t want to cut yours down!
All of the trees above stay hearty and healthy in the diverse conditions that Ontario offers. Talk to your landscaping company about the specific conditions in your yard to make sure the tree of your choice will thrive there. Everyone should have at least one special ornamental tree that will bring extra color and excitement to their landscape.
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