The Formal Lawn Garden houses a wide variety of shrubs and trees, but one tree that people may miss is the Eastern Larch. Eastern Larch, also known as tamarack, has historically been harvested for its wood to be used for snowshoes. This is due to its strength and flexibility. Eastern Larch is native to Canada and the northernmost part of the United States.
Eastern Larch, Larix laricina, is a deciduous conifer. They have needle-like leaves that turn yellow in the autumn and drop over the winter. This is a hardy tree that is cold tolerant and grows well in a wide range of soil conditions. Eastern Larch grows well in cool climates of USDA hardiness zones 2 through 5. Iowa is at a USDA hardiness zone 5, which means Iowa is at the warmer end of its suitable range. Eastern Larch is a shade intolerant tree so it must be planted in an area with full sun (6+ hours per day). Eastern Larch is generally one of the first species to move into recently cleared areas, but is eventually overtaken by other later successional tree species.
Eastern Larch can get 40-80 feet tall at maturity and are very tolerant of poor draining soils. This tree does best when planted in cool areas with high soil moisture. Dwarf and weeping versions are available and may be more suitable for yards and gardens. Avid bird watchers may enjoy adding this tree to their landscape as birds and other wildlife often use these trees for food or shelter. Other homeowners may enjoy adding this tree due to its brilliant golden foliage in the autumn. Eastern Larch may be susceptible to being blown over by high winds because of its shallow root system.
Although we may not be snowshoeing around at Reiman Gardens this summer, make your way over to the Formal Lawn Garden to see some unique trees that can add variety and diversity to your landscape!