Stop by The Grove in Clayton for tree inspiration

Stop by The Grove in Clayton for tree inspiration

Stop by The Grove in Clayton for tree inspiration
The Grove Park in Clayton. (Tamara Steiner photo)

Nicole Hackett, Garden GirlCLAYTON, CA (August 17, 2022) — If you’ve spent any time in The Grove this summer, you may have noticed how nicely the shade trees are growing in.

The trees were planted when the park opened in 2008. Of special note are the canopy-style trees throughout the picnic table areas and the round-headed trees lining the borders at the playground and along Clayton’s Main Street.

Chinese evergreen elm and golden rain trees surround the picnic table areas. Both trees are highly valuable in Clayton gardens and landscapes, providing lots of vertical interest, wind protection and shade.

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

Golden rain

Shade trees line the playground at The Grove. (Tamara Steiner photo)

Golden rain trees have the recognizable, papery seed pods that appear during the summer. Florists and designers value these seed pods as they make great additions to arrangements.

The golden rain tree can be found in nurseries under the name Koelreuteria paniculata. This tree grows with moderate speed and has well-behaved roots, which makes it ideal for patio areas and walkways. In spring, yellow flower panicles dangle from the open branch habit.

The tree will reach 20-25 feet tall and almost as wide. The leaves are fern-like and blueish 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 pink-blooming crape myrtles and Chinese pistache trees.

Planted along our streets and landscapes, Chinese pistache trees are a Clayton favorite. This round-headed tree is valued for its exceptional fall color. Look for the selection called Keith Davy, a male that 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 the beautiful structure.

Crape Myrtle

Crape myrtles 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 on the selection but 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 and see these fabulous tree selections for yourself. It’s great to get a feel for a tree’s mass before you add it to your landscape.

This column is reprinted from 2019. The Garden Girl is taking a brief break and will be back in September.

Nicole Hackett
Nicole Hackett

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