Friday, March 30, 2012

Best Sale I Never Made

  A couple of springs ago, I had a customer request a White Fringe Tree. She had grown-up with one in her mother’s yard, recalling that they called it ‘Old Man’s Beard’, and wanted one for herself, so I went on the hunt. It is not a readily available tree because they are difficult to produce from cuttings. Sometimes a specialty plant comes with a high price. Once I located the tree, I called the customer to make sure she still wanted it. She paused once she heard the price, but decided it was worth it. The tree arrived and I called the customer to tell her the tree was at the nursery….that was the last I heard from her. I learned my lesson and now require a deposit for special orders, but it turned out to be the best sale I never made.

Chionanthus virginicus is a native plant to our area. It has earned the name White Fringe Tree from the narrow petal flowers which drip like silk fringe from its branches. It is slow to leaf-out and flower in the spring, but well worth the wait. The flowers also have a wonderful fragrance which is an added bonus to this unique tree. The Fringe Tree will reach fifteen to twenty feet in height and spread and prefers full sun, but can take some light shade. This tree is dioecious , meaning there are male and female trees. The male is typically showier in bloom, but the female is covered in blue, olive-like fruit in late summer, supplying a feast for birds.

I decided to keep the Fringe Tree rather than put it up for sale in the nursery and have it planted out front where I can see it every day. Last spring it was breathtaking and I expect no less from it this year.


  1. Sorry for your lose of a sale but it is a beautiful tree. Love those lacy blooms or should I say fringe. LOL!

  2. Sorry to hear that it was so hard to find a Fringe Tree, I love them. Had one put in the front (done by landscaper) and I asked for a C. virginicus and I believe I got a C. retusus....Chinese fringe tree. ugh! It is ok, but really think C. virginicus is showier!
    Wonder why the lady never came back. hmmm.
    I am still going to get a native Chionanthus for my yard.
    When I lived in Virginia they decided it would be THE Yorktown tree, for the Jamestown 400th celebration.....boy they were hard to come by in that area for a long time, and pricey.

  3. You have a VA fringe tree? Big sigh.... I'm jealous! I love them!! I don't blame you for taking a deposit. Smart!

  4. What a bother to have gone to all that trouble, only to have the customer back out! At least you got a beautiful tree and an important lesson learned out of the experience. I am unfamiliar with this tree. It looks just beautiful.

  5. I planted one when my husband and I bought our first house. I planted ALOT of things.....we sold the house two years ago and that tree is what I miss most. I'm on the hunt for another to plant at my sisters house as I moved to Montana an not sure i can grow one there! They smell so good!

  6. A friend and I walked past this tree on a garden walk and had to stop because the fragrance was breathtaking. I am now looking at my yard and considering adding one...beautiful!