Thursday, February 13, 2014

The Trees that Grow in my Garden

A few days ago fellow Central Texas garden blogger Laura at Wills Family Acres wrote about the trees growing on her 2-acre property. It was fascinating to see the large numbers of live oaks and cedars on her plot, and also fun to see how many trees she and her family had planted.

I really liked the idea, and decided to copy Laura and make my own Tree Inventory post. After subtracting the area covered by driveway, hardscape & house from my quarter acre lot the remaining plantable area is pretty small... how hard could it be to count the trees on 1/8 of an acre?

"This should be a cinch," I thought. "All I have to do is take the tree names from my plant spreadsheet."

But it wasn't that that simple. The first problem was deciding what counted as a tree. Are hollies trees or shrubs? Are boxwoods shrubs? Where are the lines?
What about small baby trees in growing-on containers?  Do I count trees that are brought into the garage or house in cold weather?

The second problem was that my spreadsheet was not complete. I'd made a note of every tiny plant brought home from Barton Springs Nursery and the Natural Gardener, but had never entered some of the large boring plants already growing here in 2004 when we bought this house. (I'm talking about you, Photinia.)

Categories seemed to be the answer.

For this list, a baby tree in a container is still a tree and trees kept permanently in containers are still trees, but they'll have their own category. I considered calling this Texas Palmetto a tree, but with a future height of only 5 to 6-ft, decided to leave it off the list.

A plant that wants to be a tree but can be kept to shrub height by constant pruning counts as a tree on the list. Neglect to prune a Ligustrum hedge or a Red Tip Photinia hedge and you'll end up with a forest of Ligustrum and Photinia trees.

If a treelike plant has the potential to be 7 or 8 feet tall it counts as a tree. For example, my Barbados Cherries have been pretty wimpy, but I've seen them look like small trees in the gardens of friends. 

The trees and treelike shrubs that were already growing here when we moved in will have a separate category.

GROUP 1 -Trees that were here when we moved in that are still alive :

Arizona ash (1 very large)

Pecan, unknown variety (2 very large)

Live Oaks (2 medium large)

Yaupon holly (1 lovely, muli-trunked tree, about 15-ft  tall)

Crepe myrtle, the common hot pink ( 6 in sizes from 7-ft to 20-ft)

Holly - some kind of Chinese holly (1 allowed to be a 12-ft tree, 1 pruned repeatedly to 5-ft)

Nandina (3 kept at 6-ft)

Red tip Photinia (3 kept under 10-ft)

GROUP 2 - Trees that were planted by us:

Loquat tree (3 trees, one large, one medium, one about 4-ft tall, all from seedlings)

The largest loquat is in the photo above, with Bay Laurel in container left, larger Southern Wax Myrtle in ground right

Magnolia 'Little Gem' (1 about 12-ft tall)

Sweet Olive (3. The oldest is very established and kept to 12-ft tall. Two younger plants are under 5-ft.)

Texas redbud (1, about 10-ft tall)

'Forest Pansy' redbud (1, about 10-ft tall)

Vitex /Chaste tree (1, kept to 10-ft tall, from a seedling)

Magnolia figo/ Banana shrub (1 about 8-ft tall)

In the photo above, the Banana shrub is at left next to the bench, center is a young Texas Mountain Laurel, then a camellia, then the tall, burgundy-leaved Loropetalum/Chinese Witch Hazel

Cenizo/Texas sage (1, kept to 8-ft, grown from a seedling)

Beautyberry AKA French mulberry (1, kept to about 7-ft tall)

Evergreen sumac (1, barely 5-ft tall after 7 years in the ground)

Barbados cherry trees (usually frozen back, one tree about 6-ft, another about 4-ft)

Crepe Myrtle 'Acoma' blooms white (2 trees, called semi-dwarf, kept to abt 12-ft in height)

Crepe Myrtle 'Catawba' blooms purple (2 young trees, under 5-ft.)

Crepe Myrtle  labeled 'Muskogee', supposed to bloom lavender (1 young tree, abt 6-ft tall)

Crepe Myrtle 'Zuni' blooms orchid pink (1 young tree, under 9-ft)

Meyer's Improved Lemon (1 tree, when not winter-killed, pruned to about 9-ft tall

Loropetalum/Chinese Witch hazel (2 - the one in photo with Magnolia Figo is about 9-ft tall, the other is a young plant about 2-ft tall.)

Pineapple guava (1 about 6-ft tall)

The Pineapple Guava has reached the top of the privacy fence - in the background is one of the Live Oak trees.

Rose 'Mutabilis' (1 in ground, kept to 8-ft by diligent pruning)

Texas Mountain Laurel (4 plants. Two about 6-ft, one about 5-ft, one about 2-ft)

This is the only one of my 4 Texas Mountain Laurels that has ever bloomed.

Satsuma orange 'Miho' (1 young tree abt 3-ft tall)

Southern Wax Myrtle (1, about 5-6 ft)

Mexican Buckeye (1 baby tree in the ground, maybe 2 and 1/2 ft tall)

GROUP 3- Trees planted by us, presently growing in containers:

Oleander (1, very large container, kept to 10-ft in height.)

Rose 'Mutabilis' (1 about 6-ft tall)

Bay Laurel (1 about 5-ft tall)

Southern Wax Myrtle (1 abt 4-ft tall)

Dwarf Pomegranate (2 plants, one under 2-ft, one about 7-ft tall)

Pineapple guava (1 about 5-ft tall)

Montezuma cypress (1 baby tree)

Thai lime trees (2 small trees, both under 3-ft, one in garage, one outside)

Willow, corkscrew (1 under 5-ft kept in container, grown from a cutting)

Meyer's Improved Lemon, (1 small tree bought in March 2006 - blooming in the breakfast room right now)

Whether or not this list is interesting to you readers, it sure is useful for me as a garden record... Thanks for the idea, Laura!


  1. I'm also impressed with your collection. I had the same issue, trying to figure out what qualified. Based on your list I should add my pineapple guava to mine. Also glad I'm not the only one with a mt laurel that won't bloom, thinking mine has too much shade.


  2. Hi Laura,
    I've read that if they're happy, pineapple guavas can be 12 to 15-ft tall in Texas so I counted it, but I'm not so sure mine will ever be that tall.
    Texas Mountain Laurels are so lovely and so frustrating! Either they make no buds, or the Genista caterpillars eat the buds or a late cold snap freezes them. My four are in four completely different parts of the yard, only one in shade. I've seen TX Mt Laurels blooming at Zilker Park in part-sun but not here.


  3. Interesting to see your collection of trees. I have often thought of Crepe Myrtles as shrubs. If mine keeps growing it will definitely be a tree tho. Cheers.

    1. Hi Lisa,
      I'd wish you luck on getting your Crepe Myrtle up to tree size, but maybe a shrub fits better where it's planted and that way you won't have to resort to Crepe Murder!


  4. There you are! I've missed you blogging!

    1. Hi marthachick! I wrote a few posts for the Divas of the Dirt blog but just couldn't get up the oomph for anything else. Hope you and yours are doing well.


  5. Good idea to do a tree inventory. I should do the same. Maybe have trees, big shrubs, little shrubs, woody vines? I don't have any trees in containers so I can rule out that category. Of course, I'll wait until spring to see which trees made it through this awful winter.

  6. Hi Carol! Go for it! I don't think Mother Nature draws a clear line between tree & shrub, does she?
    Right now those 2 "dormant" Barbados Cherries in this post have question marks as to their survival. I hope your trees all make it through.


  7. I need to do this too. I am constantly planting things. Just stuck a Mountain Laurel and an impulse buy Sandankwa Viburnum in the ground. I am hoping they grow faster than I'm expecting!

  8. Some of my impulse purchases turned out to be among my favorites! Hope you'll get lucky with your new plants gardenerofgoodandevil.


  9. With that long list I'm surprised you can even see sun light. I don't think I have that many and I've got acres here.

    1. Hi Bob!
      There's a lot of part sun and seasonal sun when the leaves are down. When we moved in it was already a shady lot - actual have more sun in some spots where two AZ ashes used to be.
      And even more shade from trees/huge shrubs in the neighboring yards.
      Bet you'd be a little claustrophobic in such tight suburban quarters, right?


  10. You certainly have a lot of trees--all that shade must be welcome during the hot summers! I'd love to see all those crape myrtles in bloom; that's one tree I wish we could grow here. I once counted and identified all the trees on our property, which wasn't as easy as I thought because most of them were planted long before we moved in.

    1. Hi Rose,
      I once heard someone say the ideal garden zone for them would be where it was cold enough for lilacs & warm enough for crepe myrtles - kind of liked that idea but no lilacs here!
      There were many trees already here but none were hard to ID - all pretty standard. At our Illinois house we planted a lot of dwarf/semi-dwarf evergreens, fruit trees, native small trees & ornamentals so made a chart for the new owners.
      Hang in there - spring will come north one of these days!


  11. I love your inventory and explanation of categories! You've got a lot going on there, too!


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