Weeping Trees: They are in their full glory now

We all need plants that are wonderful in winter. Weeping trees fit the bill: their silhouettes are distinctive, and sometimes are even more pleasing now than in summer.

Weeping trees are not normal. They are generally the result of a genetic mutation produced in a seedling from the seed of a normal, upright tree. When a plant person recognizes an unusual tree, the first response is generally, ”Wow!” Then comes the thought: ”Hmm… I’ve never seen one like this, I wonder if I can propagate it. And get rich!” And while few such mutants lead to riches, there are now a wide variety of weeping trees available in the plant world.

Weeping larch in summer at Cadys Falls Nursery

One tree expert told me that he has spotted anomalies from a moving car, only to go back, get some living tissue, and graft it onto root stock to get an unusual tree variety that he marketed commercially.

Cadys Falls Nursery

I have had a weeping larch tree for several years now, and love it. One of the great things about this particular tree is that it will never get tall. I have it planted at the perimeter of my vegetable garden, and don’t want anything that will cast shade on the plants there. Weepers grow down, so they stay about the same height, and are easy to prune and keep tidy. They can be trained to be tall, but that takes an effort. Of course the trunks get thicker every year and they sometimes end up draped across the ground if not pruned.

My weeping larch in winter. It loses its needles in the fall.

Cadys Falls Nursery, outside of Morrisville, Vermont was for decades the place to go for weeping trees, and to see mature specimens in their display gardens. But Don and Lela Avery, the owners, are mostly retired and the gardens are only open for business weekends in May and June, and one weekend in August. Their garden are worthy of a trip, just to see what is possible, even in the far north of Vermont. The gardens are open for viewing Saturdays and Sundays in July, August and September, but closed for business.

This old weeper at Cadys Falls has branches laying on the ground now.

If you don’t have a weeping evergreen, now is the time to do some planning. Most garden centers have a few, and all are delightful with a fresh coat of snow.

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