Shawn’s Travels- The Cox Arboretum

Monday, January 18, 2010

I went down to visit the Cox Arboretum in Dayton, Ohio yesterday. This is a very interesting place. They have a real nice collection of conifers or evergreens as they are commonly referred to.

I saw a real nice Pinus densiflora, ‘Umbraculiferra’, Tanyosho Pine, there that had the beautiful exfoliating reddish-orange bark that is so often overlooked by folks in the trade, public and elsewhere. The trunk is a multi-trunk and would make a great substitute for the ubiquitous Betula nigra, River Birch. Needles on the plant are dark green and about 3” long. The few mature specimens I have seen have had an open bottom with a full flat top. This is probably where it gets its other common name the Tabletop Pine. This would be a terrific plant to do as a group planting. I highly recommend this plant!

I also saw a 65’ tall Metasequoia glyptostroboides, Dawn Redwood, always an impressive site!

One Tree that really caught my attention was a group of three Shumard Oaks, Quercus shumardii. The trees had very straight trunks. They were holding some of their leaves like most oaks do in the winter. The thing I noticed was the leaves were slightly smaller than Quercus rubra, Red Oak and a little pointier like a Pin Oak. I have done a little homework on them tonight and this could be a good alternative to the Pin Oak for around here. A friend of mine Tom, who is an arborist, told me recently he was real interested in Shingle Oaks. I also saw one of those at the arboretum that impressed me. Shingle Oak leaves are different from the multi lobed Oaks such as the White Oaks and the Red Oaks. The leaves look most like a Beech leaf to me. The leaves are five or so inches long and have a similar veins as a Beech although the leaves do not taper in on the front and back of the leaf as much as a Beech.

The Oaks really have my eye right now. I have a real nice group of Fall Fiesta Sugar Maples I am going to plant in the Joy Arboretum one of these days and I think the next group of plants I will plant out there will be a collection of Oaks. So I am looking, studying and thinking about them very hard. Some of the most awe-inspiring trees I have ever seen have been natives to the area.

I almost forgot to mention the rock garden complete with twenty plus hypertufa troughs. Most of these appeared to be planted with rock garden plants. One trough had a couple conifers in it that were overwintering outside just fine. I always notice troughs anywhere we go because one of the gentlemen I work with just loves them. A couple years ago we started making our own troughs. I could not get Bob to make them big though. Every time I see big troughs I always photograph them. They are a pain to move when they are big because they get heavy. However, they are so much more impressive, in scale with houses, and plants can live in them longer and not overgrow the trough when they are larger. Bob finally broke down and made some large troughs this year. I cannot wait to get them planted up and move them outside sometime this year.

The Cox Arboretum also had a visitor’s center with a store that was not open when I was there. The arboretum is just a mile or two off I-75. If you are travelling in the area and need a cool place to get out of the car this could be it for you. Another option might be the Dayton Art Institute once again just off I-75 a mile or two. They had some great garden sculpture there. I will save that for another blog though.

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