WINTER SCREENING CAN COME in all sorts of densities and colors. We typically first think of using evergreens as screens, but screening can even come from a dense dormant deciduous canopy. If you like being more innovative, consider using a columnar oak called crimson spire in your next project.
This columnar oak is quite narrow and only grows 15 feet wide and 40–45 feet tall at maturity. It is a great choice for smaller spaces as well as for hedgerows and screening. In the winter, this oak tends to hold on to its dormant brown leaves. While some may think this is unattractive, I believe it is a great wintertime quality. It provides additional winter interest, continued screening and provides important cold-weather cover for the birds.
Plant it in full sun and watch the dark green lobed leaves of summer turn vivid red, orange red or rusty red for a beautiful fall color display. It also has intriguing dark brown furrowed bark, which certainly adds to its winter drama.
Strong growth, tolerance of periodic drought and a narrow shape make it a great urban tree or street tree. If you don’t need a screen or hedge, it also makes a beautiful single specimen in the landscape.
SHELLY NOLD is a horticulturist and owner of The Plant Kingdom. Send stories and ideas to her at The Plant Kingdom, 4101 Westport Road, Louisville, KY 40207.