When it comes to creating the outdoor landscape of your dreams, there are a few key things to keep in mind that will help you bring it all together. While a great deal of attention is paid toward selecting beautiful flowering shrubs and perennials, many people fail to realize you are going to be way better off choosing your trees first.

Logically, trees being the larger of the plant groups play a huge role in helping to set your garden theme. The landscape’s under-story plantings (shrubs, perennials, grasses and groundcovers) should be selected after you have chosen the garden’s feature element and focal point; the Specimen Trees! 

So what is a specimen tree? By textbook definition, it’s an unusual or impressive plant grown as a focus of interest in a garden. Not only do specimen trees provide beauty with their fragrant flowers and fall color foliage, but they even pump oxygen into the air. Specimen trees also provide a source of nutrients for local wildlife, birds, and bees. 

You may already know of a few specimen or ornamental trees that bring vibrancy and interest to garden spaces. The trees usually reach 25 feet tall or less in height and provide shade to small perennials or plants in a garden. In addition, these trees can add a sense of privacy when strategically placed in a yard.

America is home to many native specimen trees with different characteristics including showy leaves, berries and fruit, unusual bark, and varying blooming schedules from early spring to early summer. The plant experts at Patuxent Nursery have done the work for you, and highlighted a few specimen trees worthy of planting in your garden or landscape this year!

Autumn Brilliance Serviceberry Tree

Autumn Brilliance Serviceberry is a small flowering tree known for its beautiful white fragrant flowers that emerge in early spring. Its budding foliage appears a deep plum hue and transforms into a copper-red during the fall months. It’s compact size makes it ideal for small space gardens and landscapes. Nature lovers will marvel at its large blueberry-like red fruit that attracts birds and local wildlife. 

This multi-stemmed tree reaches 25 feet in height, and grows best in any well-drained soil. Its ability to resist pests and diseases makes it an excellent choice for low-maintenance upkeep.

Redbud Trees

If you’re looking for a tree that brings year-round interest, look no further! Redbud trees are a sight to see for their early-spring blooms, and contrasting fall leaves. Your garden will be bursting with colors as rosy-pink flowers. Soon later, heart-shaped green foliage will appear all over this small tree that will make its blooms pop even more!

Also known as Forest Pansy, this drought tolerant tree grows best in partial shade to full sun, and has a moderate growth rate. Plant this flowering tree in mass to create privacy, and watch it reach heights of 30 feet overtime.

Crimson Queen Japanese Maple Trees

Crimson Queen is one of the most popular Red Japanese Maple trees sold today for its striking red spring, summer, and fall foliage. This shade tree has a weeping growth habit, and like many other Japanese Maples, are well-suited as specimen plants around water features, patios, or entryways in containers. 

Popular in Zen gardening, Crimson Queen Japanese Maple Trees are low maintenance and surprisingly easy to care for. Although its delicate red leaves pack a punch of color, over exposure to sunlight can result in leaf scorch. With the proper lighting and care, Crimson Queen is bound to flourish in your outdoor space for years to come.

Magnolia Trees

Magnolia trees are a staple specimen tree loved for the southern charm it brings to any landscape. This  tree varies in sizes, but the beauty of it all remains the same. This spectacular flowering tree features stunning blooms including fragrant  white, yellow, and pink flowers depending on the variety. The most popular Magnolia growing trees include the large Southern Magnolia, Saucer Magnolia, Teddy Bear Magnolia and Little Gem Magnolia. 

Magnolia’s glossy, dark green foliage is a sight to see in contrast to its white flowers. Not only are these trees easy to care for, but they’re also disease-resistant. This versatile shade tree can even be shaped into a hedge to provide privacy to any home landscape.

Crape Myrtle

How could we leave out Crape Myrtle out of the mix? This North American shade tree is known for its bright, robust summer blooms that come in beautiful shades of white, pink, purple, and red. Gardeners love this flowering tree for its many varieties, and signature green foliage that grows in an upright habit. 

Crape Myrtles provide year-round interest due to its spring and fall foliage, bright summer blooms, and unique gray bark that shines throughout the winter months. This multi-stemmed tree looks amazing when planted along neighborhood streets and pathways. If you’re low on space, Crape Myrtles even stay compact when planted in containers.

Patuxent Nursery has a vast selection of trees and shrubs to offer when looking to spruce-up any home landscape or garden. If you’re looking for a quick and easy option to shop, visit Garden Goods Direct for plants and trees delivered straight to your door!