One Special Tree – Four Outstanding Seasons

We all want instant gratification in our gardens; plant today – fabulousness tomorrow. At some point most of us have learned the hard way that plants just don't work to our schedule and we have to wait for the plants to fill in and mature before they really fulfill our vision. Yet occasionally I come across something that exceeds my expectations and such has been the case with the deciduous tree Ruby Vase Persian ironwood (Parrotia persica 'Ruby Vase'). Purchased and planted in 2012, I was attracted by the slender silhouette (as compared to the typical Persian Ironwood (Parrotia persica), that spreads up to 30′ wide) as well as the promise of fall color and winter flowers. I did not expect to be grabbing my camera every few weeks during spring and summer to capture the remarkable kaleidoscopic display of foliage colors, however.

Through the Seasons

Early Spring

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Opening a bright, fresh green the leaves are often edged with purple or burgundy.

April 2018: Ruby Vase is directly behind the post and rebar pergola in the middle of this border. The fresh green foliage is a good counterpoint to the emerging copper and ruby tones of nearby trees and shrubs.

Summer

August 2019:  the deep plum foliage of Ruby Vase (behind pergola posts) sets off the black eyed Susan's that grow at its base.  I repeated the warm hues in the container planting design.

I have noticed significant color variation throughout the summer and even from one year to the next. Typically, by late May the foliage is a blend of rich burgundy, deep purple and dark green, but the proportions of each vary greatly. Regardless, it is always striking and much more colorful than the species.  

Fall

Taken today, October 28th 2019, the vivid golden foliage of Ruby Vase lights up the fall garden. It has looked like this for at least a month already!

All I can say is thank goodness for digital photography or this tree would cost me a fortune in film!

Winter

Clusters of tiny ruby flowers decorate the bare branches in winter

I may have purchased this tree for the foliage but the silhouette, bark and winter flowers add to its ornamental value.

Winter 2014: a young tree shows off its silhouette

Design Ideas

August 2016

In my own garden I have it combined with tall burgundy tipped grasses and black-eyed Susan's for a meadow-inspired look. Large mossy boulders and a rusted arbor complete the scene that overlooks an open grassy area and meadow beyond.

August 2016

Seen from the front the framing is slightly different with a snag playing into the vignette together with golden spirea and many other foliage colors and textures. (The golden locust tree to the right has since been replaced by a contemporary container seen in more recent images e.g. "summer").

October 2019

As the tree foliage transitions to gold, I especially like its association with the rusted metal of the arbor. For a completely different look you might prefer to add silver; perhaps giant lambs ears (Stachys 'Bella Grigio'), or a wormwood (Artemisia).

Vital Statistics

Mature size: 28'h x 12- 16'w Shape: upright, vase shape Full sun – part shade (best color in full sun) Average, moisture retentive soil Average-low water (I do not have irrigation and rarely give this supplemental water) USDA 4-9

Look familiar?

This post is an updated edition of one I wrote for another blog on August 16th 2016. It has been such a popular post that I still receive emails about it, inquiring if it has continued to thrive and grow as expected.  I therefore decided that it was time for an update both in terms of habit and images. Incidentally, this tree has now also been featured in two of my books!

Foliage Kaleidoscope!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Growth rate

So here we are three years on and yes it is still be favorite tree in our garden! It is currently ~ 14 feet high and 11 feet wide and still maintains an upright vase shape. Note that in today's photos (under "fall") the leaves have already fallen from the uppermost branches, suggesting a more rounded profile than it really has.

Deer Resistance

The deer rarely bother it, nibbling a convenient branch as they stroll past on occasional years. Parrotia is not included on the Rutgers list, but I would rate this as  B. (My Parrotia persica (the species rather than a cultivar) in a more open position gets nibbled rather more but still not severely damaged.)

Drought tolerance

This has not received any supplemental water for the past three years.

Where to buy

I always advocate buying locally as you are more likely to find a well-adapted specimen (to your climate). Ask for it at your local nursery – many will try to order it for you. There seem to be some online sources now too, such as this one and this one, although I have no experience with either of these and cannot specifically recommend them.

Subscribe to Receive Blog Posts

Gardening inspiration delivered right to your inbox from Le Jardinet

Homegrown Heirlooms: 2 chefs share their passion from seed to plate

Heirloom seeds

The most creative chefs aren't afraid to try new flavors or to give familiar recipes a fresh twist. "When you experiment, you learn," commented University of Washington chef Dustin Selner; except he is taking about growing food not just developing new recipes. Dustin met Colby Crouch at culinary school in Seattle many years ago, where…
Read More

New and Exciting Foliage to Watch For

My road trip last spring with the National Garden Bureau was a hortiholics adventure of the first order. I was one of four garden writers invited to attend the 2018 California Spring Trials (CAST) as their guest on a week long, plant-peeping extravaganza. CAST is the opportunity for plant breeders across the country to showcase…
Read More

Creating your own Gardentopia – book review & giveaway

Gardentopia cover

I've know author and acclaimed landscape designer Jan Johnsen for a number of years now, so when I saw that she was speaking at the Northwest Flower and Garden Show recently, I was excited to stop by and say hello. After catching up on hugs and news I stayed to hear her talk on Gardentopia: …
Read More

Versatile Container Plants for Spring

spring container garden

After being buried under snow for weeks, my Seattle garden is finally green again – with splashes of yellow, blue, pink, and white as spring-blooming perennials and shrubs wake up. It's so exciting to see color! Inevitably a few things look worse for wear after the winter – especially some of my containers, but rather…
Read More

Behind The Scenes

video set up

What was I thinking?! Back on a cozy winters evening, glass of wine in hand, it seemed such a good idea. "Let's film a short online workshop to help people get creative with their spring containers," I said. My long suffering husband (aka roadie, book sales assistant, pot mover, and videographer) readily agreed. After all,…
Read More

Seed Selection Made Easy

It's still a bit early to start sowing seeds here in Seattle – but it's not too early to order them! Looking out of my office at the still snow-covered garden, I need a promise of spring, and poring over seed catalogs with tempting images of juicy vegetables and a rainbow of flowers gives me…
Read More

Designing a Winter Wonderland

It's all very well knowing that for a garden to look good in winter it has to have "good bones". But what do you do when a foot or more of snow turns those bones into a lumpy graveyard? Seriously – since when do white lumps look like anything other than just white lumps? When…
Read More

Gardens of the World – come for FREE!

It's that time of year when Seattle-ites go into season-denial. Sure it may be snowing or raining outside, but within the walls of the Washington State Convention Center the sun is shining, the birds are singing and the air is perfumed with the heady spring time mix of hyacinths, daphne and sweetbox (Sarcococca). It's Show…
Read More

Planting Blessings – Lessons from Childhood

Little girl tasting her first iced lolly in her nana's garden

Born in Ballymena, 30 miles north of Belfast, my Nana never lost her Irish brogue, even after moving to England as a young woman. By today's standards she didn't have much. She left school at 11 to look after her siblings "just as we were starting to learn long-division", married the boy next door, lived…
Read More

Gifts for Garden Lovers

If your list is long but your time  is short, these ideas are for YOU! All these gift  recommendations are based on my own experience and use. For the Homesteaders We all know someone who keeps chickens, has bees, or grows vegetables – check out the many useful and fun gifts that Stumpdust has to…
Read More

Welcome to My Garden Adventures

SE6A7058

I'm a serious plant-aholic. In other words I'm usually covered in a layer or two of soil, I drive everywhere with a large tarp for impromptu plant purchases and I'm truly passionate about sharing the joys of gardening.

Buy My Books Here!

 

 

Container Gardening Course

Enter KCHAPMAN20 to get 20% off

Architecture, interior design, and more ∨

Use the help of top home decorators to select matching bedside tables and a new lamp shade for your own bedroom design.
Collect and share photos of bathroom tile, bathroom vanities, shower curtains and bathroom mirrors to create your perfect home decorating style.

TV Interview

Archives