In recent days, a heavenly sweet fragrance has filled the air in the woods where we live, all around our nursery office, and in certain areas of our tree production and sales areas. I’ve been looking forward to the blossoming of the Basswood trees throughout the winter that would not end and a spring that almost wasn’t. It’s happening now!
The height of true summer has certain signature events that hold a special place in the hearts and imaginations of North Country gardeners, and outdoor enthusiasts. For me the list includes the fragrance of Basswood trees in bloom, fireflies dancing in the night, ripe watermelon, the sweetest sweet corn and bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwiches.
When the Basswood trees bloom, many people barely notice because the flowers aren’t big and showy. They are light cream/green and pale, but incredibly fragrant. These subtle blossoms are incredibly fragrant. These subtle blossoms are a huge attraction for the honey bees making what some people think is the very best tasting honey of all.
Basswood is one of our very hardy native trees, and an important part of our Minnesota hardwood forests. Also known as American Linden, and carrying the botanical name Tilia Americana, the Basswood tree is in my opinion a far better landscape tree than the little leaf lindens of European origin such as Greenspire Linden. The whole group of American Linden are more resistant to Linden borers than little leaf lindens, and are fairly rapid growers with a pleasing pyramidal shape in youth, becoming more rounded with age.
While native Basswood trees make an excellent landscape tree there are several selections of American Linden that are really great trees, including Redmond American Linden, Sentry American Linden, Boulevard American Linden, and Frontyard American Linden. These varieties have different shapes and mature sizes to fit different sized spaces and varying site conditions.
The only other trees that do well here in southern Minnesota AND rival the fragrance of the Basswood trees, are the wild American Plum trees and Japanese Tree Lilacs when they are in full bloom. This year, enjoy the special treats that mean real summer for you, and don’t forget to inhale deeply when near the sweet air of the Basswood blossoms.