About this time last year I planted three crabapple trees and three spirea bushes in the back garden. A reader named Lisa who is considering some crabapples for her yard asked me to provide an update and some pictures of my plantings one year later.
The weather conditions in the last year have been challenging for new plantings and not all of them fared well. Drought conditions began in late summer and persisted through the winter until a pair of snow storms in March brought much of the moisture we had been lacking. We also had a few weeks of bitter cold temperatures, the damaging effects of which were certainly reinforced by the lack of an insulating snow cover.
I’m happy to say the Red Baron crabapples appear to have wintered fine. They have leafed out well and even blossomed this season, which I wasn’t sure they would. These were the smallest crabapple variety with a vertical growth pattern that I could find at the landscape center. Although I think there is noticable growth from when they were planted last year, they are not in jeopardy of overgrowing their places in the yard anytime soon. They are about 9 feet tall now and I believe their full mature height is around 14 feet.
Unfortunately, the spirea bushes didn’t do as well as the crabapples. Of the three I planted, two appear totally dead; the third has leaves on about half of its limbs. I could tell last summer that these plants were struggling, so I’m not surprised they didn’t come back. The store we bought them from provides a warranty against die-off in the first year, so I will try to get some replacement shrubs under that policy and see if I have better luck with them this summer.