These trees will provide a decorative accent that will become a real feature in your garden. They are Unusual in the sense of not commonly seen in landscapes, not in the difficulty of obtaining them.

All five choices are hardy, smaller sized trees which grow in a wide variety of situations.

  1. Contorted Filbert, Corylus avellana ‘Contorta’
  2. Chinese Dogwood, Cornus Kousa Chinensis
  3. Fringe Tree, Chionanthus virginicus
  4. Hinoki Cypress, Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Gracilis’
  5. Carolina Silverbell Tree, Halesia tetraptera

The contorted filbert, or Corylus avellana ‘Contorta’ is a tree that gives interest primarily to the winter garden with its spiraled and twisting branches.

I enjoy it in Spring with the catkins and freshly budding foliage, too. Heavily foliaged in summertime.

Japanese beetles ravage the foliage, however. Still, grow it for the beauty of the winter branches and work to control the beetles which attack a wide range of plants.

cornus kousa
The Chinese dogwood is a distinctive tree with red fruits in autumn and white (sometimes pink) flowers in spring. While preferring moist, well-drained, acidic soils in partial sun this tree is quite adaptable.

In my yard it wants more moisture and grows quite slowly. A gracefully branched tree, it gives a woodland look to the garden without taking too much space (it is not prone to all the troubles of its more common cousin, the native Dogwood tree, Cornus florida).

Best planted in the spring.

Chionanthus virginicus
This tree is quite variable in form. I have both tree-like upright and “shrubby”forms. I am not sure why there is a wide difference in how it grows.

The fragrant flowers arrive with the leaves, in late spring. Little olive-like fruits (it is in the olive family) show up on female plants in the late summer.

A dioeciousAdd a Tooltip Text tree, you must have both male and female for there to be fruit production. Both types have flowers. Chionanthus virginicus flowers early and is pollution tolerant. more growing information on my Fringe Tree page.

Carolina Silverbell or Halesia tetraptera is a beautiful but little known tree. Native to the USA it grows along the Blue Ridge Parkway, and is similar in culture to the Dogwood. Sun to partial shade; moist, well drained soil and hardy to zones 5-8. It has the most beautiful and delicate flowers in the spring, I photographed a specimen growing in the Dawes Arboretum and was perfectly entranced. In our part of Ohio it stays a smaller tree of shrubby growth. A factsheet from NC State.

hinoki cypress


As you might know, this is one of the most beautiful dwarf evergreens in my estimation. It is an asset to any garden with the sunny aspect it prefers. Dense and slow-growing, it does require moisture to thrive, and sufficient light. I have a more detailed plant profile on the Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Gracilis’ to read. How To Grow Hinoki Cypress

More about the Hinoki Cypress:

How to Grow Hinoki Cypress Trees

How to Use Dwarf Hinoki Cypress in Landscaping

Sources For These 5 Trees

Silverbell, Halesia tetraptera
Cornus kousa Kousa Dogwoodfrom: Nature Hills Nursery, Inc.
Chinese Dogwood (Gift Box) – $39.00from:

Buy Zone-Specific Live Trees Online at Nature Hills Nursery