It is a delightful tree with lovely white bells hanging from under the branches. I am looking forward to my tree being big enough to stand under. It is a wonderful sight to look up into and the flowers have a delicate scent. Last year it flowered in May in my garden and was a perfect match for the white Aquilegia growing alongside it which echoed its white bells at a lower level.
This year it is flowering in April and the Aquilegias are keeping to a different timetable. Perhaps I will put some of my Brunnera ‘Jack Frost’ seedlings round its feet. This plant has lovely heart shaped, silver leaves veined with green and sprays of bright blue forgetmenot flowers. It comes true from seed.
I love a blue and white combination so maybe I should try putting some of the lovely Corydalis ‘China Blue’ to make a frilly skirt at its feet.
On the other hand it is rather fun to echo the lovely white bells with more white bells so one has a whole carillon going on. Perhaps some white Dicentras and Polygonatum: Solomon’s Seal would look good with it.
The lovely Lilies of the Valley are just coming out so maybe a sea of these tiny white bells would look lovely growing round the Halesia. When it stops raining I shall go and play around with these different ideas.
Halesias are members of the Styracaceae family. Halesia carolina is also easily available and it does not grow so tall. Its flowers are not as big though. I think I prefer the one I have. In America I believe this tree is called ‘Silver bells’. I am not sure why as they are white, becoming cream as they mature.You can also buy pink varieties but I think snowdrop trees should be white.
The Halesia is named after Stephen Hales who was an eighteenth century clergyman and highly esteemed scientist. There is a monument to him in Westminster Abbey. The tree was given this name by an eminent naturalist John Ellis who was an expert on coral and wrote a paper on it. He also distinguished himself in the field of botany by describing Halesias and Gardenias which were unknown at the time. Perhaps Halesias should bear his own name but Ellis chose to show his esteem and admiration for Hales by naming this genus after him.
Whatever its name it is a lovely tree. It needs a sunny position and a soil that doesn’t dry out. It would probably be happier on an acid soil but it seems to be fine without this, but I do give it a mulch of composted pine needles every year.