Looking for something exotic? Ohio Buckeye , Aesculus glabra, a member of the Horse Chestnut family is a great addition to any landscape.
Above, the natural range of Ohio Buckeyes, the state tree and moniker for people from Ohio known as "Buckeyes". How does this tree grow in our high northern plains environment? I don't know, hardy as hell I guess! It just goes to show that we should try almost anything to see if it grows here. There are quite a few Buckeyes in Calgary in public parks and peoples yards, they seem to grow here just fine for being from much higher growing zones.
Maybe the first Ohio Buckeye in Readers Rock Garden in Calgary. These trees can grow up to 50 feet tall (15m) and wide but probably never that large in our climate. They have a five-pointed palmate leaf like all Chestnuts which is a nice contrast to the majority of our deciduous trees. Plant in a large yard away from too much heat or wind as the leaves can scorch, water well until established.
Ohio Buckeye is one of the earliest trees to leaf out in the spring followed by large flower spikes.
Here are a couple of Buckeyes in my neighbourhood in bloom around mid May.
After flowering chestnuts develop through the summer. By around the end of August the spiny casing opens to reveal the shiny chestnut, if you have squirrels the nuts will disappear immediately! Even Magpies will eat the nuts. If you pick the spiney nuts before they split open and let them pop open indoors revealing the actual nut they can be grown quite easily just like Acorns which you can read about in the previous post, Burr Oak.
Here you can see a fairly large specimen, these trees make excellent shade and often have beautiful fall foliage ranging from orange to red which is very nice in our yellow dominated fall palette. These trees have interesting light coloured bark with very thick twigs on a fairly uniform rounded silhouette, little pruning is necessary.
Despite their southern-midwest roots these trees thrive in Calgary. There is one at the base of the Centre St. Bridge on Memorial Dr., a few in Riley Park close to the Burns Rock Garden, Deerfoot Athletic Park and maybe in your own neighbourhood park or yard. Hardy, large flowering, great shade tree and virtually pest and maintenance free, if you have some space these are great specimens!