CO-Horts Blog

Sunday, May 4, 2014

The Fourth Ginkgo

Posted by: Alison O’Connor, Larimer County Extension

Sometimes I feel like my green thumb has turned brown. Especially when I spend another weekend working in the yard, witnessing the death and destruction of my garden. In my defense, we did have a devastating hail storm that occurred last August, but it also seemed like winter took a deadly toll on my plants.

Including my ginkgo. That was the third one I had planted since we moved to our house in 2007. The first two had really poor root balls (they were a “deal” at a tree sale) and only lived for one season each, and the third was in bad shape when it came to my yard. I will say, however, #3 lived for two whole growing seasons!

As I was sighing in my yard, I inspected all my trees. All my trees are pretty small. Besides the hail storm last summer, we also were in the throes of the tornado that struck Windsor in May 2008. Except for a mature honeylocust and silver maple, all my trees are just juveniles. Here’s a look:

The mature honeylocust (Gleditsia triacanthos inermis)
The mature sliver maple (Acer saccharinum)
'Guinevere' crabapple. She's my favorite tree in the yard.
Small, cute and blooms pink! What more could you want in a tree?
'Greenspire' linden. You saw me plant this one just a few weeks ago.
Redbud (Cercis canadensis). It lived! I'll admit that I'm a bit surprised.

And it's starting to leaf out!
Thornless cockspur hawthorn (Crataegus crusgalli inermis).
Dark green, glossy leaves and red fruit that spills on the ground in fall.

'Honeycrisp' apple. Yep, it's teensy tiny. Maybe I'll get fruit in a few years.
Some type of plum I don't care about. It bears prolific fruit, which the beagles enjoy.
And my newest edition: ginkgo #4. Yes, I bought another ginkgo.  

My beloved ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba)!
Prior to tree shopping, my husband and I had this conversation...

Me: Gil, I’m going to look for a new tree for our yard. Do you have any suggestions?

Gil: Maybe something that will live? How about a buckeye?

Me: That’s not a bad idea! I like buckeyes. They are tough as nails.

Gil: Plus, maybe it will help them win the National Championship?

(We are both Ohio State grads.)

Me: Hmmmmm.

But then I got to the nursery and I immediately asked the first employee I saw where their ginkgoes were located. She showed me. I wooed. I fell in love and I brought #4 home.

The leaves! The fan-shaped leaves are emerging! Love love love.
Gil: What!? Another gingko? Are you crazy?

Yes. Yes, I am. Because the ginkgo is my favorite tree in the world—it’s a living fossil! And I The fourth time is the charm. Right? I know that they are difficult to establish. I know they grow slower than molasses. I know all of this…but I still have to have one. I need to have one. My yard needs a ginkgo.

So tell me, what plant did you have to have and purchased over and over again? Did it finally work out, or did you give up and plant your version of a buckeye? 


  1. I *have to have* wild plums. I have tried twice now, and am going for my final round this year. At 8,700', I'm just a little too high for plums, but I think I may have figured out the best microclimate for them. Or so I hope. I'll cross my fingers for your gingko if you cross your fingers for my plum!

  2. Bush morning glory! HAVE. TO. HAVE. It grows in sandy soils in the plains of Colorado. I live in the sandy clay loam of Berthoud. This is my third year of trying, and this time I'm building a sand berm for it to live it. Who wouldn't love its large pink blooms, water aversion and its apt nickname, manroot?

  3. Irene, my fingers are crossed! And Noladq, what a fantastic plant. Let's keep defying nature!