Trees for Descanso Gardens

Plants are organized by size (shortest to tallest).  The following trees have been recommended by Garden Club Members.


Common Name Height at full size Diameter at full size Leaves Months in Bloom Member testimonial
Japanese Maple 'Red Emperor or Emperor I'
(Acer palmatum)
Fifteen to twenty feet   Deciduous
Full color in fall
Not significant Pat says: This particular variety of Japanese maple has worked well for me. I've had it on the south side of my house where it's exposed to heat, sun and not particularly great soil. They need more of a woodland setting, but this tree has done well in this spot (not ideal conditions!!) It does get some sunburn on the leaves in the summer and I do have to keep it watered. You need to have enough sun for the leaves to color properly but have to be careful so they don't burn up. I've got several other varieties that just wouldn't take this exposure. I do like to grow these in boxes, as my gopher seems particularly partial to them. I can also control the soil etc. better. They like acid soil (which we don't have).
Desert willow
Up to twenty-five feet if it doesn't die back in winter   Deciduous
May die back to ground in cold winters
Will likely return in spring
White or purple-red in spring Water sparingly;
Wants water in spring and monsoon season;
otherwise is drought tolerant
This southwest desert native grows in river banks
Crape Myrtle
(Lagerstroemia indica)
Up to thirty feet   Deciduous Shades of red, white, purple in summer Several of us are trying these. So far, we haven't got any full-sized trees, due to wind or something. They do well as multi-stemmed shrubs.
Silk Tree
(Albizia julibrissin)
Up to forty feet;
can be kept at ten to twenty feet
  Deciduous Fluffy, pink blooms in summer in summer Likes our summer heat,
can be messy
Sweet Gum
Up to sixty feet Up to twenty-five feet   Deciduous
Full color in fall
Not recommended: Two members report that August winds blow away the leaves just before they provide their beautiful fall color.
Chinese Pistache
(Pistacia chinensis)
Up to sixty feet Up to fifty feet Deciduous
Full color in fall
Not significant Pat says: They seem to be an undemanding tree. They are in native soil, exposed to heat and sun, and get very little water during the summer. They change to GORGEOUS red colors in the fall. The leaves are fine in texture so I don't think you would have a lot of leaves on the ground to rake.
Sunburst Locust
Honey Locust
(Gleditsia triacanthos)
Up to seventy feet   Deciduous,
golden yellow,
drop early in fall
Not significant Pat says: This is another tree with fine textured leaves. It is a fast growing tree so I think you would have to protect it against breakage from the winds. It's an undemanding tree once established. This doesn't get to be as tall as the regular green 'moraine' locust does and I would call it a small shade tree with light filtered shade. What I like about it is that in the spring, the new growth comes out a great yellow green: nothing else is like it! They are drought tolerant once established.

The following trees were recommended by Max Stults and Joe Hoffman from Grandpa's nursery:



Go to the top