What can I use instead of much-loved Hawthornes?

It has to be a medium to large tree.  Horizontal in habit.  Have flowers, fruit, and winter beauty.  And be disease resistant.  The answer is (I think) Sargent Cherry.  Prunus sargentii.    Nothing is as exciting in early spring as Cherry blossoms, and a driveway lined with them could cause traffic accidents.

The Sargent Cherry doesn’t have the big ( I think overblown) double flowers of the Kwanzan Cherry.  Sargent has a much more elegant, single layer of petals.  It does get berries, though they aren’t very noticeable and don’t last through the winter.  But oh, the bark in winter – lustrous, ruddy-brown with horizontal srtipes (lenticils.  The bark is so elegant it looks artificial.

Sargent cherry I think I’ve solved the design of the driveway. I think I have a new love

My Heart is Breaking – Over a Tree

I’ve had a dream for about 15 years of a driveway lined on both sides with Hawthorne trees  – specifically Crataegus  viridis  ‘Winter King’.   I admire its ( admittedly malodorous) white flowers, its bright red berries that persist through the winter; but mostly it is the horizontal, openly irregular branching pattern that thrills me.  I can see it giving a sense of destination along the driveway, a sheltering quality that anticipates the shelter to come.  It leads the eye both upward and outward, saying “There is something worthwhile beyond”.   And it is a four-season tree – I think I would grow it for the winter branching pattern alone.

However in Kansas the Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana) is widespread.  And unfortunately  it co-hosts a fungus disease with apples and Hawthornes.  Cedar Apple Rust Hawthorneand  Cedar Hawthorne Rust.   All the books say that ‘Winter King’ is the most resistant to rust.  But ‘most resistant’ is not resistant.  And Red Cedars are everywhere around our property.  It’s native to this area.  There are anti-fungal sprays that are effective.  But that would become a permanent chore.  And one of my goals is to plant things that are habitat-suitable, at least as much as possible.


Some Unexpected Visitors (residents?)

beaverWell I wanted a country garden.

I expected deer, and I am used to them.  A deer fence is in the works.

Raccoons – lots of those in Brooklyn.

Rabbits too.   The deer fence will also have a rodent barrier.

Groundhogs…hmmm…I have some learning to do.  Tunnels under my plantings sound dangerous and expensive.

Then we saw coyote tracks and scat.  (That is the polite word for droppings).  Maybe they’ll help with the rabbits and groundhogs?

 And we have beavers.  I walked along the creek that flows along our west property line and into the property to the north of us, and found – so far – three dams which cause occasional flooding.  I understand the residents (human) of the adjacent property have periodically tried to smash their dams, but unfortunately the result is that the beavers build newer and better.  And I have learned that they don’t use dead or fallen trees – they chomp down live trees only for their structures.  Not my new trees!  A trapper will relocate them.

Snakes!  This is not so charming.  There are rattlesnakes and timber snakes (a kind of rattler) all over the area.  Stay on the paths and carry a forked stick.

And last – cougars.  Or bobcats (I’m not sure which).  I haven’t seen them and apparently there aren’t a lot of them, but they have been seen.

And still  I want a country garden.


We chose the word Timshala, the name of our new home,  as a variant of the Hebrew word ‘Timshel’.   It is described in John Steinbeck’s East of Eden as meaning ‘choice’ or free will.  Not that you must choose good.  Not that you shall choose good.  But that you may choose good.  Man can “…choose his course and fight it through and win.”