Which tree would you choose?

(Question)

Hi there
We just moved to a new home in Markham, Ontario.
I really wanted to plant a beautiful tree in front of the house to add character also give it more of a homey feel. Any suggestions on something that is low maintenance but also grows tall and fast. Also I’m looking for a tree that would look different from the rest. I want something beautiful & grand!
What do you think?

(Answer)

There are so many trees you could choose.  But for something a little different you might consider one of the ornamental species and cultivars currently being grown around the parking lot at the Royal Botanical Garden in Burlington as part of an experiment to introduce more diversity in urban street trees.

When 14 green ash trees had to be removed from the parking lot due to the emerald ash borer, the RBG seized the opportunity to try some more ornamental trees than a municipality might plant. The criteria included trees that would thrive in full sun, prove to be pollution, wind, drought, adverse temperature and salt tolerant and as maintenance free as possible.

Now two years into the program, all of the following trees are doing well: Paperbark maple (Acer griseum); Hardy rubber tree (Eucommia ulmoides); Amur maackia (Maackia amurensis); Turkish hazel (Corylus colurna); European hornbeam (Carpinus betulus); Sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua ‘Moraine’); Silver linden (Tilia tomentosa); Black gum (Nyssa sylvatica ‘Wildfire’); Littleleaf linden (Tilia cordata ‘Corzam’); Japanese zelkova ‘Musashino’ (Z. serrata ‘Musashino’);  Japanese pagoda tree (Styphnolobium japonicum); and Japanese zelkova ‘Green Vase’ (Z. serrata ‘Green Vase’).

In addition, Toronto Master Gardeners have put together a guide on planting a tree that you might find useful. For more information take a look at https://www.torontomastergardeners.ca/index.php/factsheet/planting-a-tree-a-toronto-master-gardeners-guide/