A very popular tree (some may say too popular) is the Bradford pear, or Pyrus calleryana 'Bradford', a tree that is heavily planted in many areas. That's because the Bradford pear is practically bullet-proof. It can grow in most any soil, acid or alkaline; take most any climate, and tolerate drought or standing water. One sees them thriving on desolate scraps of hard clay in sizzling parking lots or on the slope of a highway embankment. In addition to this extreme adaptability there is the fantastic autumn foliage and an exuberant spring bloom making its popularity inevitable. But that very popularity is what has led to its over use. There is however another form of this omnipresent tree that could ring new life into the species, and this alternative is the Callery pear 'Capital'. The Capital pear has all of the adaptability of the Bradford, and its outstanding ornamental characteristics, but it grows in a narrow columnar form with a strong central leader. Capital pear is an excellent choice for the narrow, restricted areas typical of so many gardens today. It grows to 35 feet in height yet only 10 feet wide at most. Not only would it fit into a tight spot but it also would make an excellent screen for the next door two-story. And, with Lombardy poplars so susceptible to disease, this makes not only an ideal substitute, but an improvement on that tree. The narrow, upright form is both useful and formal. To see an avenue lined with Capital pears smothered in white bloom is beautiful. And those same trees are every bit as dramatic when the pretty lustrous green leaves turn bright copper in autumn.

If you're looking for a reliable, low maintenance tree with beautiful bloom, striking autumn color and a handsome, and versatile form, then look for a Capital pear. Naturally, it's not as easy to find as the Bradford but it's worth the extra effort. These trees are very successful in Australia and New Zealand, and well adapted to the UK, the warmer parts of Canada and most of the US. As usual, it will not be found in the popular landscape nurseries but more likely in a specialty, mail-order, plant nursery.

Capital pear


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