Downtown Clayton park offers vivid tree display

Crape myrtle trees are the best summer-blooming trees around town

Downtown Clayton park offers vivid tree display

The shade trees are filling in nicely in the Grove park in downtown Clayton.

Visitors can appreciate the canopy style trees planted throughout the picnic table areas and the round-headed trees lining the borders at the playground and along Main Street.

Chinese evergreen elms and golden rain trees surround the picnic tables. Both trees are valuable for Clayton gardens and landscapes, providing vertical interest, wind protection and shade.

The Chinese evergreen elm, also known as Ulmus parvifolia Drake, is an exceptional shade tree with a weeping growth habit. Finely toothed leaves are medium green in color, turning yellow in autumn. The elm will lose its leaves if temperatures dip below 30 degrees but it’s fast to regrow. Mature heights can be 30-40 tall tall and wide, so consider that when planting.

Golden rain trees have the recognizable, papery seed pods during the summer months. Florists and designers value the pods, as they make great additions to arrangements. You can find the tree in nurseries under the name Koelreuteria paniculata. This tree grows with moderate speed. It has well-behaved roots, which makes it ideal for patio areas and walkways.


Downtown Clayton park offers vivid tree display
Crape myrtle trees are the best summer-blooming trees around town

In spring, yellow flower panicles dangle from the open branch habit. The golden rain tree will reach 20-25 feet tall and almost as wide. The leaves are fern-like and bluefish green in color. Before the leaves fall in autumn, they change to gold – adding more appeal to this beloved shade tree.

The rounded trees bordering the playground and Main Street are a combination of the pink blooming crape myrtle and Chinese pistache trees.

Chinese pistache trees are a Clayton favorite, often planted along our streets and landscapes and valued for their exceptional fall color. Look for the selection called Keith Davy, which is male and doesn’t produce berries.

Chinese pistache trees are the swans of the landscape. While young, they can look awkward. But as they mature, the trees become spectacular and can reach 25-30 feet tall and wide. Chinese pistache trees will need occasional thinning to expose their beautiful structure.

Crape myrtle trees are the best summer-blooming trees around town. The flowers are panicle shaped in pinks, red, lavender and white. This family of ornamental trees thrives in our hot weather and clay soil. Many selections of crape myrtle also display vivid fall colors.

Mature height and width depends of selection. Expect 10-20 feet tall, so do some research before planting.

Keep these trees in mind as the fall planting season is quickly approaching. Visit the Grove park and see these fabulous tree selections for yourself. It’s great to get a feel for a tree’s mass before adding it to your landscape.

Nicole is the Garden Girl at R&M Pool, Patio, Gifts and Garden. You can contact her with ­questions or comments by email at