Dodging raindrops between appointments yesterday as I ran up the entryway walk, I couldn’t help but stop when I noticed the loud hum of bumble bees, hard at work in the pretty, pink blossoms of my horse chestnut tree (Aesculus x carnea ‘Fort McNair’). Rainy, cool weather has prolonged the bloom period of this lovely new addition to my garden, giving us all more time to enjoy her late-spring beauty. Planted a year and a half ago —with Fagus sylvatica ‘Riversii’ to back up her gorgeous yellow-throated rose flowers— this young tree has already begun to develop the lush, rounded canopy for which she’s known. Bumble bees love this flowering tree and —if I’m standing still long enough— I can also catch hummingbirds darting between branches as they sample fresh, sweet nectar from her enormous (7-10 inch panicle size) blossoms…
Hardy in USDA zones 4 – 7, Aesculus x carnea cultivars grow slowly; eventually reaching 30 – 35 ‘ in height, with a similar spread. Because of its smaller size, red horse chestnut makes an excellent and adaptable shade tree for smaller landscapes. Although it isn’t fussy about soil type, horse chestnuts do prefer to be sited in full sun, with even moisture and deep, well-drained soil.
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