Purple Fountain European Beech

May 3, 2010

25 year old Purple fountain beech Photo: 5-3-10

Purple Fountain Weeping Beech. Fagus sylvatica ‘Purple Fountain’ is an upright growing purple weeper. Unlike the less common F.s. ‘purpurea pendula’, Purple Fountain will develop a leader on its own and continue to grow upright. Over time, it will broaden out so it does need some room. In the Piedmont of NC there is a misperception that the European beeches ‘do not grow here’. I’m not sure how this got started but unfortunately this idea is widespread. We have been growing beeches in the garden for over 25 years and now, some of the trees which were planted as 1 gal grafts are twenty or more feet tall. Beeches are slow to establish taking as many as 3 or 4 years to really take off. It probably is best to grow them on the north side of an area where they get some full sun but are shaded for the majority of the day. We are growing one in the absolutely worst site – a dry, full sun exposed site. The tree is doing remarkably well with irrigation. There are many varieties of European beeches ( unlike the situation with the native American beech with has only a few cultivars which are extremely hard to find). Varieties to look for include: ‘Dawyck Purple and Red Obelisk ( both narrow red/purple forms), ‘pendula’ ( a large growing green weeping form), ‘Asplenifolia’ a cut-leaf form that when it becomes large offers a very filtered, special shade, ‘ tortulosa’ – a rare form that offers a wide growing contorted branch structure. The ‘tri-color’ beech which has the most colorful spring leaves of all, is very hard to grow and cannot be recommended unless you are willing to risk losing it. There are many other forms and we have come across some collectors in the area who have collected varieties in the manner that some collect Japanese maple culitvars.

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