American Fringe Trees (Chionanthus virginicus) and Peonies have little in common, except that they are providing some of the most striking blooms in our garden at this moment.



American Fringe Trees are native to the American Southeast, but  naturalized in much of the Midwest. They grow about 12′ – 20′ and are shade tolerant. Their most remarkable feature are the fragrant, fleecy white flowers that you can see above, glowing in the morning sun. There are 2 Fringe Trees planted near the northeast corner of the house.

There are male and female Fringe Trees. The males are the showy ones with lots of flowers. The females have fewer flowers but feature bluish olive-like fruits in autumn. Cardinals, Bluejays, Woodpeckers, and other birds are fond of the fruit. In the picture above you can see a female Fringe Tree in the shadows.


Here’s a closeup of the flowers. This tree should really be much more common in American gardens.


Out on the Parkway Bed, there are 2 ‘Snow Swan’ Peonies blooming their hearts out right along the sidewalk. I realize now that I should have planted them closer to the middle of the bed. Perhaps I will transplant in the fall.


Here’s a closeup of the flower. I really prefer these single and semi-double blooms to the big flouncy ones.


And now for the critters. I found this Cecropia moth while pruning the Lilac (Syringa vulgaris) by the east side of the house.


And here’s a Dragonfly lurking among the ferns.

That’s all for now. Are you finding any standout plants or surprise critters in your garden these days?

54 Comments on “Fringe Trees, Peonies, and a Couple of Critters”

  1. The fringe tree is a delight, as are those peonies! I, too, prefer “singles” to “doubles”. Why do the hybridizers always seem to think fluffy is better? Wonder if there are hybrids that started out as doubles and were turned into singles?

  2. That’s a tree I’d never hear of before! I’m glad to see you sharing a moth. So many people don’t give moths much thought, when they can be just as beautiful as butterflies, and are pollinators too.
    I just had an interesting dragonfly in my garden this afternoon, and a swallowtail fluttered by, right past all my flowers, over the fence and away!
    My “stand-out” plant today is a weed! I identified (it finally flowered) mystery volunteers that appeared last year in three different beds. It’s Prunella Vulgaris, self-heal.

  3. The flowers on the American Fringe trees look lovely in the sun in your first photo. The peonies are just lovely, every time I see them I think I should try growing them here, but I think it would be a tough one for the poor peonies, considering our variable rainfall and heat in summer…I’m just going to enjoy yours!

  4. The flowers on the Fringe Tree are really lovely. I have never seen them here and have just looked them up at an online nursery which says they can be frost sensitive when young. And the one they have on sale is expensive! So maybe that is why they aren‘t often seen around you as well. The single white peonies are also very striking.😃

  5. I have never had one of those single peonies. They are so pretty. The big yellow center makes me think of egg yolks. I love fringe trees. I don’t have one in my garden. I might have to remedy that. Funny you should mention critters in the garden. There are plenty here now but the most interesting to me are the tree frogs which I have written about lately.

  6. Oh, I have that peony in my front yard and it is certainly my favorite. Reminds me of fried eggs, lol. I have also considered a fringe tree but I only want one, not two. Do you need a male and a female for flowers? I saw a scarlet tanager the other day and my neighbor saw a Baltimore oriole. A few weeks ago I saw a Northern flicker woodpecker. Wondered why a woodpecker was on the ground eating and found out they like ants. Terrific.

  7. I’ve never seen a fringe tree, which is strange given that various sites say it’s hardy throughout the state, as long as it has the right soil. “Right” seems to translate to sandy/loamy, which would explain why it’s not common here in gumbo soil country. And I’m surprised by those single and double peonies. In Iowa, I never saw anything except the ones with bunches of petals: big, heavy blooms that smelled luscious.

    As for standout plants — oh, my. Yes. I found a real treasure last weekend: a native orchid. I’ve got its photo up on my blog. It was pure luck (or dumb luck) that I managed to see it, but it’s a white-flower lover’s dream.

  8. The fringe tree will be something I’ll have to consider when we move to North Carolina. I’m envious of your Cecropia! I gave my lilac a hard prune this spring but didn’t see any treasures lurking in its branches, alas. There is a big fat toad residing in my flower pots. I was so happy to see her! And my Anemone canadensis are blooming. Hooray! ….need to get out there to weed their beds so they can breathe…

  9. Digging and replanting peonies is too much work just to move them a few feet IMO, especially If they’ve only been growing a couple of seasons. They need seriously large holes. If they’re mature enough to divide (3 years minimum, preferably 4), *maybe* it’s worth it for the multiplication + better placement.

  10. Envying your fringe trees! Here they’ve unfortunately proved to be susceptible to the same emerald ash borer that’s killed all the ash trees. I’d hoped the bored might die out after its target was gone, but…

  11. Great photos, especially the last one of the dragonfly. I’ve seen a few Fringe trees here in SoCal, but they are not common. Enjoyed seeing yours, and especially the peonies. Lovely.

    Surprise critters: a Pacific Slope Flycatcher pair decided to nest on the patio. No sitting on the patio for a month, but they will eat up so many flies. 🙂

  12. Love the fringe tree photos! I have a young ‘Tokyo Tower’, planted last year, that has not bloomed yet. It’s only about 30″ high at the moment. Maybe next year…?? *cross fingers* I too prefer the singles and anemone form peonies to the big floofy doubles (especially after a rain!)

  13. Hello Jason .. WordPress has me at my old unused blog for some reason .. I’m beginning to think your blog doesn’t like me ? LOL
    I think it is too funny we are both posting on Fringe trees and white peony .. plus I have a picture of a dragonfly I haven’t yet posted on .. great minds think alike .
    Mine is a Chinese fringe tree (Chionanthus retusus) .. but they look totally alike I think.
    I love the way the morning light shines through the foliage and all of those fringes are beautiful and last so long .. I only have the one so it is rather dear to me .. I hope this posts !

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