Plants - Trees and Shrubs

Trees that love to weep

A well-placed weeping tree will gladden the eye in any size garden

Weeping Nootka false cypress (Chamaecyparis nootkatensis ‘Pendula’)
Height: 10 m
Spread: 2 m
Cultivation: Full sun to light shade; grows best with plenty of moisture but survives drier sites
Zone 5

The weeping form of the Nootka false cypress (a.k.a. Alaska cedar) is hardier and more slender than the species. It forms an elegant tree with bluish green needles and gracefully drooping branches. There seems to be two different clones available: one has an open habit, widely spaced branches and fairly long, pendulous branchlets; the other is denser with shorter branchlets. Both take several years to develop their full beauty.

‘Purple Fountain’ European beech (Fagus sylvatica ‘Purple Fountain’)
Height: 5 m
Spread: 1.5 to 2 m
Cultivation: Full sun; well-drained, slightly acidic soil
Zone 5

While there are several weeping beeches with purple foliage, most become too large for the average garden. ‘Purple Fountain’ is a fairly narrow, upright, slow-growing tree with pendulous branches, so it never becomes excessively wide. The foliage opens a dark purple and gradually changes to purple-green as summer progresses. The leaves turn golden brown in fall, and remain on the branches over winter until pushed off by the opening buds in spring. It should only be planted as a balled-and-burlapped or pot-grown specimen, as bare-root plants seldom survive.

Weeping willow-leafed pear (Pyrus salicifolia ‘Pendula’)
Height and spread: 5 m
Cultivation: Full sun; most soils; thrives in fairly wet ones but also tolerates dry, stony soil
Zone 5

This almost looks like a weep­­ing willow from a distance. I remember seeing one in England’s Cambridge University Botanic Garden, and the silvery foliage intrigued me and drew me closer to identify the tree.

The narrow leaves are covered with a silvery down that gradually falls off to reveal a shiny green surface. Clusters of white flowers in spring yield small, sweet, edible pears, although they contain a lot of the gritty stone cells sometimes found in dessert pears. There is little fall colour, only a muted yellow.

‘Red Jade’ crabapple (Malus ’Red Jade’)
Height and spread: 4.5 m
Cultivation: Full sun; most well-drained soils, except very sandy ones
Zone 3

Arching branches reach to the ground and are covered with white flowers in spring. In fall, the small (12-millimetre) bright red fruit attracts birds that descend in great numbers to feast on the tree—this is the only time I get cedar and bohemian waxwings in the garden. While these trees are planted for the effect of their fruit in winter, it’s more the birds I enjoy in fall. This variety is reported to be somewhat prone to scab and mildew, but in 20 years, my tree has never shown any signs of either. 

More weeping trees to consider
Young’s weeping birch (Betula pendula ‘Youngii’) Zone 2

Weeping Atlas cedar (Cedrus atlantica ‘Glauca Pendula’) Zone 6

‘Tolleson’s Blue Weeping’ Rocky Mountain juniper (Juniperus scopulorum ‘Tolleson’s Blue Weeping’) Zone 3

Golden chain tree (Laburnum x watereri ‘Pendulum’) Zone 5

European larch (Larix decidua ‘Pendula’) Zone 2

Weeping Candied Apple crabapple (Malus ‘Weepcanzam’) Zone 3

Weeping white mulberry (Morus alba ‘Pendula’) Zone 3

Japanese flowering cherry (Prunus ‘Kiku-shidare-zakura’ syn. ‘Cheal’s Weeping’) Zone 6

Golden weeping willow (Salix alba ‘Tristis’) Zone 4

‘Kilmarnock’ weeping willow (S. caprea ‘Kilmarnock’ syn. ‘Pendula’) Zone 4

‘Prairie Cascade’ weeping willow (S. ‘Prairie Cascade’) Zone 2

Canadian hemlock (Tsuga canadensis ‘Cole’) Zone 3

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