Shade is one element that gardeners add to their space easily. Plant a shade tree and turn part of a large, hot and sunny area into a shady retreat to just sit and relax and enjoy. Trees also provide shade for plants that cannot stand up to the midday sun, giving the gardener the chance to plant a wider variety of flowers.
Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis) is also known as American plane tree, buttonwood and buttonball-tree. The tree is native to the Eastern United States and hardy as far north as USDA zone 4, growing from 75 to 90 feet tall, with a crown spread of 60 to 70 feet. This deciduous tree produces oval-shaped, lobed leaves that grow from 6 to 10 inches long and turn yellow-brown in the fall. The red flowers will be either male of female, with both on the same tree, blooming in late March. The spiked fruit is tan and measures 1 inch in diameter. Plant sycamore in full sun and a moist, but well drained, soil.
Blackgum (Nyssa sylvatica Marsh) is also known as black tupelo and sourgum and is in the dogwood family. The tree grows with a cone-shaped or flat-topped crown, and has glossy, green leaves that turn yellow, orange, purple and scarlet in the fall. Blackgum grows from 30 to 60 feet tall. The small, blue fruits are a favorite of birds and small animals. The tree can be found in the eastern United States as far west as East Texas. Plant blackgum in full sun, partial shade or full shade and in a soil that is moist.
White Oak (Quercus alba) is found in eastern and central United States as far north as USDA zone 3. The deciduous tree grows from 60 to 80 feet tall with a round crown. The blue-green leaves are lobed, grow from 4 to 8 inches long and turn purple-red in the late fall. Both male and female flowers bloom in May and are followed by acorns that grow up to 1 inch long. Plant white oak in full sun and moist soil.
Japanese Pagodatree (sophora japonica) is a member of the pea family. The tree grows to about 60 feet tall and 80 feet wide with medium to dark-green, compound leaves that are made up of 9 to 13 leaflets that turn to chartreuse in the fall. Cream-white to yellow-green flowers grow in clusters from early August to early September and are followed by yellow-green fruits that are a favorite food for birds.