Avondale RedbudCercis chinensis 'Avondale'
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Cercis chinensis 'Avondale'
Outdoor Growing zone
The Avondale Redbud is one of the most spectacular spring flowering shrubs there is. In March or April its bare branches glow with purple buds that burst into deep pink blooms. The dark-green rounded leaves are charming all summer, and they turn golden yellow in fall. The dark-gray twisted branches create a beautiful winter profile on a shrub or small tree that makes a great specimen on a lawn or bank, or among other flowering shrubs anywhere in your garden.
Grow the Avondale Redbud in full sun for the best results. It grows and blooms best in warmer zones, especially if you have long, hot summers. It thrives in any well-drained soil, including poor and rocky ground, and it is drought resistant once established. Easy to grow and free of pests or diseases, this beautiful plant can be grown as a rounded shrub or pruned up into a multi-stem small tree.
“Wow, what a winner!” – that’s what we thought when we first saw the Avondale Redbud in bloom. Redbuds are always beautiful, but they don’t always have a great abundance of flowers. This one is different. In spring every branch is packed from top to bottom with a profusion of blooms, with buds jostling each other to find space to push out from. Those crowded buds are a rich, vibrant deep purple and they open to reveal bright, deep pink flowers – it’s a stunning combination that makes this plant one of the most outstanding varieties of redbud available. It’s so beautiful that it really does bring the traffic to a stop. This is not the usual ‘eastern’ or ‘western’ forms we grow that come from our American redbuds. This one is a Chinese cousin, and the difference shows in the dark-green of the glossy leaves, which are almost circular, with a small pointed tip. Add in glowing fall color, and this is definitely a ‘must have’ shrub that grows well in most gardens.
The Avondale Redbud is a rounded deciduous shrub or small tree, growing to be 8 feet tall and wide in a few years, and reaching double those dimensions when mature. It has multiple stems from the base, but it can also be pruned and trained into a small multi-stem tree, and it is an ideal tree for a small garden when grown that way. The smooth bark is an attractive silvery-gray on younger branches, becoming dark gray and rougher on the most mature stems. It grows in a graceful fashion, with elegant slightly-twisting branches which give this plant a beautiful winter profile.
The leaves are about 5 inches long, and rounded to heart-shaped, with a pointed tip. They are deep-green, with a glossy, slightly leathery texture, and when in leaf this tree has an elegant and refined look. In fall they turn to glowing shades of gold, sometimes with orange overtones, before falling to reveal the beautiful branches. This plant flowers early in spring, before most other shrubs, and it is a herald of the new season. In March or April – and even earlier in the warmest zones – the clusters of flower buds swell and open. These are carried on young branches, but also directly on the older stems – a unique feature of redbuds that intensifies the profusion of their flowering. The buds are rich, deep purple, and then they burst open into a bright pink that turns the tree into a beacon visible from a very long way away. The bloom season lasts 3 weeks or even a little more, and you will love every day of it. The flowers are followed by flat seed pods that look like beans, and they give away the fact that this plant is a member of the pea family. These grow to about 5 inches long, turning dark brown by late summer and decorating the bare branches.
As a spring-flowering specimen this bush is very hard to beat. Plant it where it will stand out, perhaps on a lawn, or up on a slope or at the top of a wall. Plant it close to your home, visible from a window, or in a spot to be seen without having to step outside. It fits well into a bed of mixed shrubs, or at the sunny edge of a wooded area. It can also be grown for years in a planter or large tub.
The Avondale Redbud is not as hardy as the more well-known eastern redbud, Cercis canadensis, and it grows best in warm states in zones 7 to 9. It will also grow well in a sheltered spot in zone 6, and even if it does suffer some winter damage it soon re-sprouts vigorously from the base and regenerates itself.
Grow the Avondale Redbud in full sun, which it needs to develop its remarkable profusion of blooms. It thrives in areas with long hot summers, and it is an ideal choice for dry states. It will grow in most soils, as long as they are well-drained. Soil that is always moist is not suitable, and if you have wet soil, or high rainfall, we recommend planting on a slope or mound. This tree grows well in poor, rocky soil too, and it is remarkably tough and durable even in dry, difficult locations, if it has a little attention while becoming established.
No particular care is needed for the Avondale Redbud. It normally has no pests or diseases, and it is a long-lived, durable tree that goes from strength to strength. You can prune out lower branches as it develops, to create a more tree-like form, if you wish – prune when the flowers are fading.
The Avondale Redbud is a selected form of the Chinese redbud, Cercis chinensis. This is a different species from the two that grow naturally in America, although the differences are not immediately obvious. It grows naturally on hillsides and the edges of forest in central and southern China, where it can reach as much as 50 feet in height. Duncan & Davies Nursery was New Zealand’s largest nursery for many years after it was founded in 1899. Near the spectacular volcano of Mount Taranaki, in the town of New Plymouth, the nursery had developed and introduced many new varieties of garden plants. The redbud called ‘Avondale’ was found in a garden in the Avondale suburb of Auckland and introduced by Duncan & Davies around 1975. It was the first selected form of the Chinese redbud, and it’s still the best.
The Avondale Redbud was awarded the coveted Award of Garden Merit by the Royal Horticultural Society of England in 2012 – and that was for its growth in the cool, damp British summers, which don’t bring the massive blooming our hotter and drier summers do. If you are looking for a spectacular spring shrub you truly can’t beat this one – but order now, as supply never comes close to the huge demand for the best.