The Eastern Redbud ( Cercis canadensis ) is a spring-flowering tree, native to the northeast. Its delicate lavender-pink flowers emerge late in April before the foliage develops and continue to sparkle into mid-May. Clusters of tiny, fairy-like flowers cling to the branches, covering the tree in a soft purple haze with charming heart-shaped foliage developing as the flowers begin to fade. Surprisingly, it is not as commonly recognized as the flowering Cherry or the ornamental pear, but it’s defiantly a show stopper! Every spring as the blossoms begin to unfold several curious customers stop by the garden center and ask “What is that tree with the beautiful purple flowers?… ”

The Redbud tree is one of my personal favorites. The original species is described as a small understory tree growing between 20 and 30 feet tall and wide. It naturally grows in woodland areas under a canopy of tall deciduous trees that lose their leaves every fall. Many exciting new cultivars have been developed over the last few years including dwarf varieties, weeping specimens, and those with colorful leaves such as burgundy, peachy-yellow, and variegated green and white.

There is a magnificent old maple tree in my neatly packed, urban neighborhood about two houses away that stands roughly 60 feet tall. Despite the fact that it is not very close to me, it provides cooling shade from the strong summer sun from late morning into the afternoon. This type of available light is often referred to as “high shade”. There is a limited amount of direct sunlight but the area is still very bright and opened.

So the Eastern Redbud will be one of the first plants installed in my brand new garden. Some varieties of Redbud do best in full sun. Others prefer some shade like our original native. Because I am working in a small space I have decided to go with a weeping variety that will mature at about 10 feet tall and 8 feet wide. Redbud trees grow pretty quickly and this one will serve as a focal point on one corner of my patio.

After much deliberation, I chose “Pink Heartbreaker”, a weeping variety with a strong upright branching habit that cascades in a rambling, informal, way. Just right for my casual cottage garden!

The entire garden was amended with compost and Gypsum to improve my clay soil as I mentioned in my last story but we did mix in some “Van Wilgen’s planting mix” and of course “Jump Start” to get my new baby off and running with vigorous root development for a good foundation.

As you can see in the photo, it already looks great and I am confident that it will just get better and better but I am really looking forward to the flowers next spring that I think will look fantastic glowing against the background of my neighbors Blue Spruce.

I have several ideas for planting under my Redbud with colorful shade tolerant perennials, more about that next time!

Happy Gardening!


As urban gardening continues to trend, container gardens are popping up everywhere! Container gardens are perfect small-space solutions. Not only do they provide added appeal to your space, they also give you delicious food right at your fingertips. If you have limited space, or simply just want to add another element to your existing crop, grow these container plants on your patio this summer.

  1. Blueberries – These sweet summer fruits grow great in containers. Because blueberries are so small, you can get a big harvest with very little space. Blueberries love acidic soil, so check the pH level of your soil and add Espoma’s Holly-tone if necessary. Check out more on growing blueberries here.
  2. Tomatoes – With tons of varieties, there is a tomato for everyone. Some of our favorites to grow in containers include smaller varieties like grape or cherry tomatoes. These are easy to pick right off the vine and are perfect for gardening with kids. Learn more about growing tomatoes in our ultimate tomato-growing guide.
  3. Peppers – Like tomatoes, peppers come in many different shapes and sizes. Whether you’re looking to add some spice to your garden with jalapenos, or prefer milder bell peppers, these colorful veggies are a vibrant summer sight. Peppers love lots of direct sun, so plant these containers in a bright area.
  4. Zucchini – One of our favorite summer veggies, zucchini, is a bit larger than tomatoes and peppers and needs more room. Grow in a container with at least a five-gallon capacity with proper drainage. Use Espoma’s Garden-tone to get the most out of your zucchini plants. Like peppers, zucchini will thrive with 6-8 hours of sunlight, so plant in a sunny spot.
  5. Herbs – Because herbs are small, they are the perfect fit for any container garden. Kitchen staples such as rosemary, basil, and mint are great additions to any dish or even a refreshing summer drink. Grow herbs in Espoma’s Organic Potting Mix in containers inside or out.

If you have limited space, don’t let that discourage you! With the right containers and a little bit of planning, you can have a delicious summer harvest in no time.