The Sourwood Is Finally Planted

  • Post published:08/27/2008
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Earlier this summer I bought this sourwood tree at the New England Wildflower Society’s (NEWFS) nursery at Nasami Farm. It was an impulse purchase, but I was sure we would find a place for it. No brilliant ideas until a couple of weeks ago when we decided that our ornamental plum is diseased and needs to be taken out. The sourwood would be a perfect replacement, but it meant breaking sod and enlarging the Lawn Bed to give this spready native tree sufficient room.

No time for sod breaking, but yesterday I had access to a strong young man with a need for some extra cash. He broke the sod. We planted the tree in the shade of the plum which we’ll take out when we decide we can give up its shade this fall.

Sourwood (Oxydendrum arboreum) will slowly grow no taller than 30 feet, according to NEWFS. It is hardy in zones 4 to 9 and is not much bothered by pest or disease. It does have tiny florets, similar to lily of the valley, in midsummer, and is noted for its showy autumn color. We have planted it in full sun (once the plum is gone) and will keep it well watered until fall. We were astounded to see how dry the soil was even though we have had a good amount of rain this summer. Not for the past couple of weeks though.

There is a substantial pile of sod to deal with. My young man is gone, but I can handle it once I decide how to compost it. In a pile of its own covered with black plastic? Or shall I use it in a lasagna bed to extend the vegetable garden enough to give myself adequate paths?
All the extra room in this new bed gives me space to divide some perennials and plant them here in a sort of holding bed while I decide what to do with them. Or do you think I am just postponing hard decisions?

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