The Violet Fern

Creating Art & Gardens

Tulip Tree in May


Oh, I am a day behind in joining Loose and Leafy for Follow A Tree. This hectic pace of a race will only get worse as the month “Mayhem” continues … Just to review, the tree I am following in my garden is a young Tulip Tree, Liriodendron tulipifera.


My Dad gave me this tree. He dug up the sapling up from his yard – the only caveat was that I had to take the Myrtle, too.  Some of you may refer to this plant as Vinca Vine, Vinca Minor or Periwinkle. I’ve read it’s invasive but I have to admit I am enjoying the carpet of flowers, especially against the yellow daffodils, and I did notice the bumble bees were, too – there isn’t much out there yet for my bumble bees so I was happy to see it. So far, it has behaved well for me and I am a big fan of ground covers – less weeding!

tulip tree may 7 2014

The Tulip Tree is 57″ tall and has buds just about to unravel and burst open! And I think I have finally figured out my camera and the buds are in better focus – bonus for you! I hadn’t noticed the nice striation on the bark before this photo. I love that little leaf curl.

tulip tree bud II

Tulip Tree Bud

tulip tree bud I

Tulip Tree Bud

Before I started following this tree I would have bet the leaves would be open by now. I decided I would compare a few other tree buds to illustrate this year’s Spring progression. I could begin to compare these every year – that is what is so great about journaling my garden!

elm bud

Elm (this is a sapling from my neighbor’s tree)

amur maple bud

Amur Maple (That is my guess. Two of these came with me from Maine in a window box – grown from seed. I suppose that is why they are invasive.)

serviceberry bud

Serviceberry Laevis

Pagoda Dogwood - I think this will be a flower!

Pagoda Dogwood – I think this will be a flower!

I have planted all of these trees (and a few more) and I realize I will become a shade gardener over the years. We didn’t have any trees on our lot and I am a tree lover! I really can’t wait for the Serviceberry and Pagoda Dogwood flowers, and much later the Tulip Tree flowers!


Author: Kathy Sturr

Artist, master gardener, plant-based chef. Florida's Nature Coast / Indian River Lakes, NY

9 thoughts on “Tulip Tree in May

  1. I have a similar-sized yard and I always notice the Liriodendron saplings coming up this time of year. Last week I counted about 30 in some of the strangest places including shooting out of a dry stacked stone retaining wall. After what seems like only a few weeks, I’ll turn around and they’ll be 2′ tall. They tower over everything, including the old oaks and beeches, in the woods across that street that have been protected as a bird area for the past 100 years.

    Our next door neighbor has a mat of vinca and I find it much easier to keep at bay than English ivy, and unlike English ivy it hasn’t really escaped into the woods. I just trim it back at the fence once a year and it behaves fairly well.

  2. Tulip tree and Vinca/Periwinkle … what a lovely combination!

  3. little nature sculptures those buds:-) They all are unique:-) It is a slow start but we are getting there….

    • Is is really a slow start I wonder Robbie? That is what is great about journaling the garden over the years. If I had studied these trees the last couple of years I might be surprised that their buds are opening around the same time. It always feels we are off to a slow start each year because we just can’t wait for Spring!!! Ha ha.

  4. How nice that your new tree is doing well..most of mine did not. I have some vinca and have to keep it under control…love the idea of Mayhem…funny.

  5. It seems an elegant tree even though it’s still small. The elm leaf-bud also is attractive – warm colours.

  6. Can’t wait to see the June tulip tree. It’s a fascinating sounding species.

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