This was the sight that took my breath away last week as I drove by the fields of Little Valley Wholesale Nursery in Brighton CO. Our Propagation Committee was meeting there to discuss potential shrubs and trees to be included in the program, and wow! were we impressed.
One reason we met there is because Little Valley is part of the multi-site field trials being conducted by Colorado State University graduate students Eric Hammond and Rob MacDonald under the supervision of Dr. James E. Klett. Since 2002, a variety of potential Plant Select® recommendations and introductions have been tested in five field sites around the state of Colorado. Eric is currently evaluating the plants that have been in the ground (some for up to seven years), and will be writing up reports for upcoming professional publications. The sites offer many different cultural and climatic conditions – from the banana-belt Orchard Mesa site near Grand Junction, down to Harding Nursery’s fields in Colorado Springs, and up to the hail-attacked CSU site just north of Fort Collins.
But these trees! Planted in 2003, these magnificent specimens of Heptacodium miconoides (Seven Son flower) made us all gasp in amazement… they were loaded with flowers, and the fragrance could be sensed from all around us. Here it was early September in Colorado when most trees are thinking about turning fall colors, and these were in their full reproductive beauty. And the bees – everywhere! Buzzing, pollinating, busy, busy! The flower petals will eventually drop and the remaining bracts actually turn a pinkish-red. Not only are they stunning this time of year, they also have incredibly gorgeous bark – truly amazingly beautiful in all seasons. One of the attendees, Tom Carter with Alameda Wholesale Nursery (Englewood, CO), suggested we change the name to Northern Crepe Myrtle – what do you think?
To learn more, read the article written by Mike Bone with Denver Botanic Gardens here.