University of Vermont Extension 
Department of Plant and Soil Science

Anytime News Article


Dr. Leonard Perry, Extension Professor
University of Vermont
Many states and regions of the country have programs to award and promote new plant introductions, and others that aren't new but deserve wider use in landscapes.  In New England, distinctive trees and shrubs are given the Cary Award.  Named for a Massachusetts nurseryman, and administered by the Tower Hill Botanic Garden, this award is given to several winners each year as judged by a panel of professionals.  Over the last three years since 2006, eight woody ornamentals have been selected—ones you might consider for your own landscape.

Cary winners in 2008 included the Fragrant Sumac (Rhus aromatica), Golden Hinoki Falsecypress (Chamaecyparis obtusa), and Three-flowered Maple (Acer triflorum).  This sumac is a native vigorous groundcover, hardy to zone 3, and gets about three feet high and up to eight feet wide.  The shiny green leaves turn scarlet and orange in the fall.  This falsecypress was introduced in 1901 in England, and is noted for its evergreen foliage with golden tips.  Keep this zone 5 plant protected from winter sun and winds, and in 15 years it may reach 15 feet tall and 5 feet wide.  This small maple only reaches about 20 feet high and wide, and is noted for its attractive amber-colored peeling bark, and nice fall colors.  It is hardy to zone 4.

Cary winners in 2007 included the Fringe Tree (Chionanthus virginicus), 'Olga Mezitt' Rhododendron , and  'Little King' River Birch. (Betula nigra).  The Fringe Tree reaches about 15 feet tall and wide.  This hardy plant (zone 3) is noted for its long panicles of fragrant white flowers in early summer.  Named for the wife of a famous New England nurseryman, this evergreen rhododendron is similar to the well-known P.J.M. only with pink instead of purple flowers in spring.  It is hardy to zone 4, and reaches about five feet tall and wide in ten years.  This compact version of our native river birch reaches about 10 feet tall and wide, with colorful patches of peeling bark, and is resistant to the bronze birch borer and leafspot.  Hardy to zone 4, it may be found by the trade name Fox Valley.

There were two Cary winners for 2006 including the Morioka Weeping Katsura Tree (Cercidiphyllum japonicum), and Wintergreen Japanese Umbrella Pine (Sciadopitys verticillata).  The genus name for the Katsura Tree means "leaves like Cercis", the name for redbud, referring to the blue-green leaves similar to those of the redbud, only smaller. Leaves turn shades of orange and yellow in fall, with a slight scent of caramel. Hardy to zone 4, the fluttering leaves on this 25-foot tall weeping tree give the effect of a waterfall.  The slow-growing, pyramidal umbrella pine may at first glance resemble an attractive plastic Christmas tree.  The shiny, dark green leaves on this zone 5 plant are in whorls at the ends of branches.  This is the only species in this genus that has been found in fossils 230 million years old. 

The USDA hardiness zones for winter cold range from 3 in the northern parts of New England, to 5 in central New England and protected sites.  Unless noted, all these plants prefer well-drained soil and full sun.  Look for them at specialty plant nurseries and garden centers.     


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