For a truly memorable experience, you ought to visit the Annapolis Royal Historic Gardens and walk beneath the laburnum pergola in mid-June.
The Golden Chain Tree attracts a lot of attention during its three-week blooming period. Carla Allen photo
Long, wisteria-like blooms in soft yellow dangle through the entire length of the structure.
The Golden Chain Tree, also known as Laburnum x waterii, is a tremendously popular tree for the three weeks it is in flower. Unfortunately, it's sometimes a difficult plant to obtain for your own property.
These members of the pea family have clusters of yellow flowers that are similar to pea blossoms and the fruits or seeds are like small pea pods while ripening.
The Golden Chain tree has little else to
draw interest at other times of the year. Its mature height in this area is approximately 15 feet and it has no autumn colour.
If you can't purchase a laburnum at a garden center or nursery, patient gardeners have the option of starting one from seed or a softwood or hardwood cutting.
The seed should be collected as soon as it is ripe. Soak it in hot water overnight and then sow it.
Softwood cuttings should be taken when a stem will bend and snap, not before or after. Six-inch long tip cuttings are sliced off with a knife (preferably on a cool morning). They should be placed in a plastic bag until you can dip the ends in a rooting hormone.
Remove the lower leaves. The rooting medium can be either sand, peat moss/sand or vermiculite/sand. Insert the cuttings into the sand and keep moist. Professional propagators use a misting system that mists the cuttings every few minutes, and bottom heat.
Place the cuttings in a shaded location. A loose plastic "tent" over them will help retain moisture. Check frequently for watering requirements.
Hardwood cuttings are easier to take. Slice six- inch long pieces of the current year's twigs off the tree when it is dormant (all the leaves have fallen off). Tie them in bundles of a dozen or so and store them either horizontally or upside down in moist peat moss, sand or sawdust in a cool place until calluses form, then store them in soil and line them out in a nursery row the following spring.