I fell in love today. I could not help it. There was just something so spectacular about it. The strong form, the outstanding color, the layered branching. And it’s native! Clearly, I am not talking about my husband (sorry Neil) but an exceptional cultivar of Nyssa sylvatica called ‘Wildfire.’
I saw this beauty at the tree farm owned and operated by Central Nurseries. Located in Chepachet, Rhode Island, Central’s tree farm grows plant material on approximately 75 acres of land. They grow a large variety of shade trees, flowering trees, and evergreens. Darin Armstrong, the General Manager of the Wholesale Division, took me on a tour while their staff dug and burlapped some native mountain laurel for me.
I am always impressed when I see their operation, but I was truly impressed today by the size of some the material they were digging. Armstrong maples, easily 30’ tall and 7” caliber were being dug for one of their customers. A beautiful weeping beech, topping out at 25’ tall, had also recently been dug.
And while the sight of these were awesome, I was the most interested in the Nyssas that are being grown in their fields. I’ve stayed away from designing with that tree (although I love it, love it) because it’s been difficult to find nice specimens in the trade at a good size and with a decent form. So, I literally had heart palpitations when I saw what they are growing in their fields…you should have heard my exclamations (seriously, it was ridiculous). Nyssa sylvatica ‘Wildfire’ grows to about 40’ tall and 30’ wide. It’s new growth has this lovely red color to it and then the leaves turn fully green by mid-summer. By fall you get the traditional red color that Nyssa is known for. What a plant!!
In addition, Central is growing Nyssa sylvatica ‘Forum’. This Nyssa has a tighter, more upright form than ‘Wildfire’ and turns shades of yellow and oranges in the fall. It may grow to be slightly more narrow at 20’ wide but you’ll still get plenty of height on it.
I was also introduced to a native (depending on how loose your definition is) cherry tree I have never seen before, Prunus virginiana. Its home range is in various parts of the eastern U.S. and Canada. The cultivar Central Nurseries is growing is called ‘Canada Red.’ The tree grows to about 20’ tall and 18’ wide and is known to be a fast grower. It flowers pale pink in the spring. I’m not normally a fan of red colored trees, but this one has a flat, maroon-colored leaf which I found to be quite enjoyable to look at. I just had a client ask me for a red colored tree in a native planting, so here it is!!
Central’s tree farm is open Mon– Fri: 7:30-3:30 & Sat: 7:30– 12 and closed on Sundays. It is located at 55 Victory Hwy (RTE 102) Chepachet, RI 02814, Tel: 401-568-1880. Central also has a garden center located in Johnston, RI. www.CentralNurseries.com
It’s well worth the trip for some inspiration and great plant material for your garden!