On my way to work most mornings, I pass by a daringly planted stand of ginkgo trees, starkly silhouetted against a building with black glass walls. It is only this time of year, however, that I am tempted to stop (as I finally did this morning) and try to grab a shot of them.
That’s because that – remarkable as this tree is – this is the time of year when it really shines its brightest. Its fall color is a stunningly bright golden yellow, a color to which it turns gradually, with its leaves edged in green initially as the color widens out.
The leaves are fan-shaped.
When I studied “woody plants” as part of my training as a landscape designer, I learned that the Ginkgo has been on earth for approximately 150 million years. It’s often chosen as an urban (street) tree because of its ability to withstand drought, pollution, and other stressful aspects of city life. As a young tree, its habit (as is evident from the opening photo) is somewhat gaunt and open. But with maturity (as with us?) it becomes full and dense, a beautiful specimen.
If you are thinking of adding one to your landscape, choose carefully. As I said, these make great street trees and can look wonderful even in a garden as long as you site them carefully and give them enough room to grow. (At maturity they can be 50-80′ high, with a variable spread.)
If you have less space in your garden, consider ‘Princeton Sentry,’ a fastigiate (narrow) cultivar. I first encountered this variety at Innisfree, in New York, on my Hudson River Valley trip, and have since planted it in a few client’s gardens.
One final word of advice: male varieties (which includes ‘Princeton Sentry’) are preferable to female ones, because the latter drop bad-smelling seeds. Instead, go for the gold with ‘Princeton Sentry’ or ‘Autumn Gold’ if you have a larger space to fill. Then stand back and watch for that cold snap in the fall, when all the leaves may drop at once, creating large golden sheets underneath the tree – until next year.
Please Note: Garden Shoots will be taking a break over Thanksgiving Weekend so the next post will be in early December!