7 Great “Specimen” Trees for Your Landscape

A “specimen” tree is defined as a tree chosen as a point of focus in a landscape. It usually has an unusual shape, texture, color or other feature that distinguishes it from other trees and shrubs in your landscape.

Here are 7 great specimen trees that could provide the perfect focus of attention in your yard.

Japanese Maple
Japanese maple trees can provide a striking focal point in your landscape. They are generally grown for their attractive foliage and shape. Mature trees are up to 25’ tall and 25’ wide. There are hundreds of Japanese maple varieties that come in various sizes with a large assortment of leaf shapes and colors.  The leaves are typically red or green in the spring and summer, and then fade before their fall color explodes to bright red, yellow or orange.  Add some up lighting down below to really accentuate the branch structure at night.

Korean Dogwood
Cornus kousa, commonly called Kousa dogwood, is a small, deciduous flowering tree or multi-stemmed shrub that typically grows 15-30’ tall, with a vase-shaped habit in the early years but eventually maturing to a more rounded form. Bloom occurs in late spring or early summer. The showy parts of the Kousa dogwood “flower” (3-5” across) are the four narrowly pointed petal-like white bracts which surround the center cluster of insignificant, yellowish-green, true flowers.  Varieties have either pink or off-white flowers.

Acer Palmatum Dissectum
This round, mound-forming, deciduous Japanese maple has many qualities that make it an excellent garden plant, including a sculptural form, deeply cut foliage, arching shoots, and orange to bright red autumn color. Often, the branch structure can be stunning – making it a beautiful tree even in the winter.

Crape Myrtle
The Crape Myrtle is known for its striking summer flowers and handsome bark.  There are many different kinds of varieties, but the average height is 10-25’ and width 15-20’.  Flower colors range in shades of pink, red, lavender or white and fall color ranges from yellow to orange to red.  The exfoliating bark as it peels, bares handsome shades of brown and grey.  Up lighting will really accentuate this at night!

The Parrotia tree’s main feature is its fall color.  Typically, they are a vibrant mix of yellow, orange and red all at the same time. It has small maroonish, reddish flowers in spring, but not very significant.  The Parrotia can get 30’ tall and 15-20’ wide.  It’s a very hardy tree and pest resistant as well.  They come in single trunk and multi-trunk.

Stewartia Pseudocamillia
The Stewartia ‘Pseudocamillia’ tree is a beautiful, deciduous tree with green leaves, early summer flowers, a mix of fall color and stunning patchwork bark with cream and brown colors.  The flowers are white and camellia shaped and the fall colors range from yellow to orange to red – often all at the same time. They like damp, well-draining soils and are suitable to smaller gardens.  A full sun scenario can lead to leaf tip burn, so pick a partially sunny area in your yard, and up light it to show off the bark.

The Ginkgo is one of the oldest living tree species in the world, dating back before even dinosaurs roamed the earth.  It’s a slow growing tree known mainly for its fall color.  They have distinctive fan shaped green leaves that turn a bright yellow in the fall.

Nancy Penrose is the owner of Big Trees Inc., located in Snohomish, WA in the Seattle area. The company is one of the largest tree nurseries in the Seattle area with over 120,000 trees available in over 300 varieties. They not only deliver young trees, but also mature trees in a wide range of sizes. Some types of trees available include spring flowering, deciduous, evergreen, and privacy trees. The company also does tree transplanting including large trees. Their blog can be seen at https://bigtreesupply.com/blog/ or https://arboristblog.com/. They can be reached at 360-563-2700.

Big Trees Inc.
10928 Springhetti Rd
Snohomish, WA 98296