All over the country there are examples of Robinia pseudoacacia Frisia in decline. This tree was hugely popular in the 1980’s and 90’s and was planted widely in gardens and municipal streets alike. However, in recent years this tree has succumbed to bacterial and fungal blights that firstly effect the leaf canopy of the tree and then causes die back in the crown before the entire tree fails. We stopped growing this variety about 10 years ago as it was clear to us that it was not a good prospect but it is still asked for and planted even though we have never seen a thriving tree of this variety in the last decade!
Our advice is to skip this tree for another choice. If you want a good yellow foliaged tree, Gleditsia triacanthos Sunburst is the ready substitute even though Acer platanoides Princeton Gold is our favoured choice for larger gardens. If a more round headed and large golden leaf is favoured, there is also Catalpa bignoniodies Aurea which makes a fine choice. The toughest yellow is Acer pseudoplatanus Worleii which can form in to a large broadly rounded tree but by being part of the sycamore family it is particularly strong to combat exposed conditions. For wet ground, Alnus incana Aurea is the best bet and this has the added benefit of orange stems and red catkins throughout the dormant winter period. Many golden leaved trees are most pronounced in the spring when their colour is vibrant before they calm down to a yellow/ green by mid-summer. Subsequent flushes produce another strong burst of yellow before the whole canopy reverts to another clear yellow show before leaf fall in the autumn.
So there is lots of choice to get yellow in your garden without the doomed planting of Robinia Frisia!
The trick to show off yellow leaved trees is to plant them with a good contrasting darker background such as a mature bank of mature trees in the distance or to site them in front of tall evergreen hedging. The foliage then shines back at you to provide a superb colour feature within a garden. This has the added effect of lightening up the area that needs a lift.
Posted by Mike Glover
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