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The Persian silk tree

  • The Persian silk tree
  • The Persian silk tree
  • The Persian silk tree

One of my favourite, exotic-looking trees at this time of year is the Persian silk tree, Albizia julibrissin 'Rosea'.

When not in flower earlier in the season, it can be mistaken for other Acacia (or Mimosa) trees with similar, fine feathery-looking 'bipinnate' leaves. But when it blooms it's crowned with a mass of delightful pink, fluffy flowers with prominent stamens.

Delicate as they look, Albizias are pretty hardy and are particularly popular in the Lake District I hear, which sees some weather. And that's not the only way they are tough, in the US they are used in permaculture as pioneer trees for poor soils, fixing nitrogen that helps fertilise surrounding plants.

Albizias come from Asia (Afghanistan to Korea) where winters are colder and summers are much hotter. As a consequence, in an open position in a British garden it can be mid-Summer before it develops leaves.

In the right sheltered spot, with full sun, the Persian silk tree will grow to 6m. But it's really a smaller garden specimen and unlike other flowering trees, like the Tulip tree or Pocket Handkerchief tree which take 10-15 years to flower, will reward with blooms within three years.

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