Question from Heather:
thank you for your very detailed answer to my husband’s question about planting trees in a parkway. While he and I agree on many aspects of our garden, we differ in opinion about what type of tree to plant in front of our small traditional style house. I love the California Pepper Tree and feel it would be perfect to plant in our open space. Our house is east facing and close to the marina. We both want something that is relatively drought tolerant once established and does not grow so big that it overwhelms the house. What do you think, is this tree a good option for us?
Answer from Pat:
I also love California pepper trees but they do not fall within your requirements. They are much too large for parkways, and they are messy, invasive, fall prey to thrips, and their roots get into pipes. Regarding my advice on India Hawthorne tree (Rhaphiolepis ‘Magestic Beauty’) this is the very best thing you could plant and is basically pest-free and easy to grow. You will love it if you give it if you purchase good ones in the beginning and if you give them the care I have already suggested. I also suggested fertilizing in March due to the sparsity of irrigation you plan to use and there is still rain usually in March. It would be better however to fertilize after the June pruning since this is when you want to stimulate growth, not before bloom in March. Just be sure to water the fertilizer thoroughly into the ground. If your house faces east, however, you have more sun than I thought. This widens your choices. See the list of small patio trees on Page 80 of Sunset Western Garden Book. Be sure to choose a drought-resistant one. Gold medallion tree (Cassia leptophylla) is a popular choice today, but the India Hawthorne trees would be far more elegant and would become in time the envy of all your neighbors.
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