2016

 
 

It is generally felt that plants with multi-season interest are preferred garden subjects. And yet, that being said, there are those plants whose single season is so striking that they are, nonetheless, must-haves for the garden. And quite often, it is these single season stars that liven up an otherwise ho-hum garden scheme. One such plant is Sunrise horsechestnut, Sunshine buckeye or Yellow horse chestnut, or Aesculus x neglecta 'Erythroblastos'. Its impact is only a few short weeks in spring when the leaves emerge a beautiful, rich and creamy pink, tinged orange and dusty rose. Even the leaf stalks are bright pink. There is simply nothing quite like it. To be clear, there is more to this tree than the early spring foliage. The leaves turn a nice chartreuse for the rest of the season and in autumn there is a display of orange and red. And it does actually flower but they're not particularly showy and don't put in an appearance until the tree has some maturity. Still, it is the spring display that people remember best.
‘Erythroblastos' is a hybrid between two North American species, the Yellow Buckeye, or Aesculus flava and the Painted buckeye or Aesculus sylvatica. Despite the North American origin it was selected in Germany and gained its greatest acceptance when the Royal Horticultural Society gave it an Award of Garden Merit. And yet, despite such a distinction, it has never been widely planted anywhere and the only places you are likely to encounter it are at superior arboreta around the world. Not surprisingly, it has never been available in the big discount nurseries either.
Although it has been reported to grow to 50 feet, 20 to 30 is more common. This is a light-limbed tree and not likely to overwhelm its site. Plant Sunrise horsechestnut in sun to part sun in a good, moist, well-drained soil and mulch around the base. Be mindful of it developing a good central leader and be prepared to correctively prune for good form. It should be given a place of prominence in the garden to best appreciate the foliage. It would work well as a single specimen but would be downright traffic stopping if grouped.
Sunrise horsechestnut grows throughout the UK, the moist, southern half of the US and Australia and New Zealand. But it may take some looking for in the specialty tree nurseries.

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Sunrise horsechestnut

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