My first acquaintance with the redbud dates back a quarter a quarter of a century. It was on an excursion to the historic spot of Starved Rock on the Illinois River. Everywhere the bluffs were colored with the blossoms of the redbud. To me, who had never seen this plant before, it we a delightful experience.
Redbud in the woods
Redbud (Cercis canadensis) is indigenous just to the south of Kane and DuPage Counties in Illinois and throughout the south and southeast. It nevertheless is hardy in our area–just be sure to buy locally grown trees. Those that are propagated in the south are not winter hardy here.
This beautifully sculpted Redbud grows on a small lot two blocks from my house. The placement is perfect in design and in partial shade.
This flat-topped tree reflects the horizontal lines of the prairie-style house–a perfect pairing. It is also in partial shade. (No, this isn’t Oak Park–this is Elgin.)
These Redbud are growing at the edge of a woodland at the former Fox Valley Country Day School. I do prefer the trees with multiple trunks, as have had all he examples so far.
I planted two Redbud’s, one on either side of my patio to shade it from the morning and afternoon sun.
It’s the most floriferous tree I know.
Blossoms grow right out of the branch.
The bright pink blossoms are stunning when viewed against a blue and white sky.
Redbud is an understory tree, found in the shade of larger trees in dry-mesic soil in open woods or savanna. It is also compatible with Black Walnut trees. It s not suitable as a street tree–a parkway is usually too dry, too sunny, and too narrow for a Redbud tree. In addition, a redbud doesn’t have the heft needed for a street tree; it branches too low, and it shades neither the sidewalk nor the street, the primary task of a street tree. It could, however, be planted in a parkway in the shade of a larger tree such as a Kentucky Coffee Tree or Honey Locust and be underplanted with sedges and woodland wildflowers for an attractive tableau.
Potawatomi Park, St. Charles, yesterday
No matter where you place Redbud, underplant it with a sedge, such as Penn Sedge (Carex pensylvanica), and woodland wild flowers including Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica), Jacob’s Ladder (Polemonium reptans), and Wild Blue Phlox, (Phlox divaricata) all in bloom now, also.