Hartley Magazine

All the latest news, hints, tips and advice from our experts

Best Trees to Plant Right Now

Amber Glow dawn redwood will achive 35 feet in 25 years
Amber Glow dawn redwood will achive 35 feet in 25 years

I need new trees. Last winter, a 100-year-old Douglas fir came crashing down on six of my specimen trees. So, now in late summer, I looked for replacements at the Farwest Show New Varieties Showcase in Portland, Oregon.

If you also need new trees, early autumn can be an excellent time to plant. According to the Morton Arboretum, fall planting avoids the fierce heat of summer, and the still-warm earth encourages new root growth before winter sets in. And if winter arrives early where you are, your newly purchased tree(s) could go into a greenhouse until next spring.

Here are the ones that caught my eye. All are medium size at maturity—that is 25-35 feet or smaller—perfectly in scale for homes, gardens, and streets.

Amber Glow dawn redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides ‘WAH-08AG’) – Here’s a living piece of ancient history for your garden. The deciduous dawn redwood species was thought to be extinct until 1941 when it was rediscovered in China. This newest variety, Amber Glow, shows off the typical flared trunk and rough reddish bark, but the fine needles are a bright green-gold that promise not to burn out in full sun. The ancient conifer is related to water-loving bald cypress so you can grow it in a boggy garden spot or supply regular water during dry spells. (Zone 4-8)

Mesa Glow maple combines easy care and fabulous fall color
Mesa Glow maple combines easy care and fabulous fall color

Corylus avellana ‘Burgundy Lace’ – How about a two-fer? This hazelnut combines ornamental and edible. The branches feature deeply cut leaves that appear in burst of purple color. The nuts are held in red husks, and the late-winter golden catkins are a festive addition. For good production, pair ‘Burgundy Lace’ with the smaller (12-foot) C. a. ‘Felix’ or ‘Theta’. The best news—all are resistant to eastern hazelnut blight. (Zone 4-8)

Mesa Glow maple® (Acer grandidentatum ‘JFS-NewMex 3’) – I’m always looking for a pop of red fall color—most trees in Oregon tend toward the yellow—and this one delivers. This beauty is also hardy and drought tolerant, once established. So yes, I’ll water regularly the first few summers, but for a graceful shade tree, it’ll be worth it. (Zone 4-8)

Mesa de Maya Southwest Oaks™ (Quercus x undulata ‘Mesa de Maya’) – Soil too dry? Got heavy clay? Or perhaps it’s more alkaline than most plants want? Here’s an oak with outstanding blue-green foliage for those tough places. Grown on a grafted single trunk, this tree can also tolerate regular watering, a rarity among the unthirsty oaks of the west. (Zone 5-10)