Eight years ago, when moving into our new home out in the “country” here in New Jersey, the yard was a blank canvas.
There was literally zero landscaping. The only mature trees were in the woods at the back of the property.
It was exciting to be able to create something from scratch … and terrifying to have to create something from scratch.
Since then, I’ve done my best to try and add as many trees as possible, but as we all know, trees aren’t exactly cheap. And with that hefty expense, comes the pressure to make sure that the trees purchased produce the biggest bang for the buck.
Which leads me to our discussion for today. A tree that I’ve only had for roughly two years but already love – Crataegus ‘Winter King’:
Some information on this tree:
- Height ranges from 20 to 30 feet with a similar spread
- Zone 4-7
- Full sun
- Blooms for about two weeks in early to mid May here in zone 6B
- Filled with berries in summer that emerge red and turn orange into winter
- Leaves turn a mix of gold, red, bronze in autumn
- The silver bark peels to reveal the orange bark underneath
- Shape is upright and dense; vase-like
- Native to North America
- Tolerates clay and wet soil (woo hoo)
- More disease resistant than other Hawthorn trees
And here’s what I’ve witnessed in the two short years since I purchased this gem.
The leaves and buds emerge almost simultaneously at the end of April:
And the blooms appear soon after, lasting about two weeks:
One quick side note: I read that these flowers are “malodorous” which in simple terms means “they smell like hell”.
Now as you may know, I have virtually no sense of smell but even I could attest to the fact that they do not smell so great. But who cares? Who gets their nose all up and in there?
Most importantly, I have a new word for my vocabulary that I will be sure to drop in a conversation real soon. Back to our discussion …
After the blooms have faded, the leaves have held up well through both a wet and dry summer, which works for me.
Eventually, the berries emerge red in color, slowly transforming into a shade of orange like they are as of today. Through research on the web, it appears that songbirds dine on these berries more than any other bird but I’ve yet to catch any in the act. They must not taste so great since these berries survive on the branches deep into winter:
I have yet to witness much of a fall color on this Hawthorn other than some yellowing of the leaves, which soon turn brown and drop:
However, one of the best, if not THE best attributes of this tree is its peeling bark. As larger pieces of the bark fall off, the orange bark underneath is exposed giving it awesome “winter” interest:
From winter to early spring, ‘Winter King’ Hawthorn, even in its earliest stages of growth like I am experiencing, has a phenomenal silhouette and stands out in my landscape:
I am expecting more of the same as this tree evolves over the next few years and will be sure to report out on its progress.