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Sunday, February 12, 2012

Kentucky Coffeetree Propagating in Mississauga Ontario

A Kentucky Coffeetree at the Gardens thoughtfully self-seeded itself while we were all otherwise occupied, and sent up a number of small saplings, some robust enough for transplanting in other areas of the BRG. Here are some photos of Gymnocladus dioicus: the 'Kentucky' in its name marks that it was at one time the state tree of Kentucky.

Seed Pods Hanging from Kentucky Coffeetree
This Kentucky Coffeetree is located at the south end of the rejuvenated Peony Garden. In fact, part of the reason the Peony Garden needed re-doing was due to encroaching shade from this healthy specimen. Southern Ontario is the northern limit for this species, and we are happy to have it in our Garden.

Small Self-Seeded Kentucky Coffeetree - Mississauga Ontario
This bushy shrub in the foreground is a small Kentucky Coffeetree that sprouted from seeds near the base of the parent tree. The brown area middle of the photo is the Peony Garden, late fall; The building is the bunker (office, washrooms) at the BRG.

Kentucky Coffeetree Sapling Transplanted into Wetlands BRG
Here is one of the self-propagated Kentucky Coffeetrees transplanted into its new home in the naturalized area in the East Garden. Look for this newcomer just east of the small footbridge over the wetland / bioswale.

Kentucky Coffeetree Saplings Self-Seed near Parent Tree
The picture above shows more Kentucky Coffeetree saplings that self-seeded in the bark mulch close to the base of the parent tree. Only the largest saplings were suitable for transplanting at this time (late Fall), but you can see how many seeds sprouted and how well they are doing. Likely the addition of irrigation to the adjacent Peony Garden and a nearby Rhododendron Azalea bed also benefited the Kentucky Coffeetree.

Peonies Sheltered New Kentucky Coffeetrees
The gray-white leaves are peonies in distress from mildew and fungus, etc. promoted by shade from this large tree; as the tree canopy grew, so did the shade. The border for this Peony Garden was moved a further 6-10 feet away from the tree. The bright green leaves are more self-seeded Kentucky Coffeetrees.

David Preparing to Transplant Kentucky Coffeetrees Fall 2011
As preparations were underway to re-do the Peony Garden, David Culham, BRG volunteer and Stewardship Committee Chair, prepares to dig up these Kentucky Coffeetrees that had seeded themselves among the peonies.

There are more photos of this tree in Fall 2009 that show how close it was to the peonies, and another picture from October 2009.

[Sharp-eyed readers may note that these earlier posts refer to this tree as Kentucky Coffee Tree. That the tree name is only two words, not three as previously thought, has been noted and corrected as of this post.]

For more information on this tree, see Wikipedia page and Royal Ontario Museum/ Ministry Natural Resources Ontario information page. According to the Ontario site's information, the Kentucky Coffeetree is a threatened species. We are more than happy to see the ones at Brueckner Rhododendron Gardens doing so well.


This tree is one of the first to drop its leaves in Fall, and one of the last to put forth new leaves in Spring. There is a fairly short window over summer when this tree is in full leaf, with seed pods, so do make a point of dropping by in late August to mid-September to see it in all its glory. 


In Other News:

When will the Rhododendrons Bloom?  As Winter winds down, plans are underway to fertilize the rhododendrons and azaleas. It's far too soon to predict what type of blooming season they will have in Spring 2012, nor when it will start and how long it will last. As the season progresses, we'll post the latest estimates here.

Volunteers Needed Spring Summer 2012: With much of the major plantings and projects completed last year, what is needed desperately this year is a lot of help to weed and cultivate existing beds and gardens, as well as maintain the many new beds, wildflower areas etc. For information on how you can help or get involved, see the contact information on the volunteer page.



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