Laburnum x watereri ‘Vossii’

One of the first trees I planted in my new garden is the aptly named Goldenchain, or Laburnum x watereri‘Vossii’.  I wish I had taken a picture of it back then because it was an entirely unimpressive four-foot tall stick, with a singular peg-like branch jutting out from one side.  The poor thing was the victim of an unfortunate accident at the garden centre and as my boss deemed it unfit for sale I was allowed to give it a good home, lucky me!  You know how much I love free plants!

Laburnum x watereri 'Vossi'

My Laburnum shortly after planting in 2009, already showing rapid growth, it’s a little to the right of the pine.

Laburnum x watereri ‘Vossii’is a tree of relatively small stature, maturing somewhere between 15’ and 30’, depending on the climate and conditions.  Here in the Pacific Northwest the Goldenchain can be expected to finish up towards the top of that range, as it loves our temperate climate.  This beautiful cultivar, with exceptionally long racemes of golden blossoms is hardy to around -30C.  Laburnum is a member of the pea family Fabaceae which is very evident from its’ seed pods, resembling pea pods but with the unfortunate difference of being quite poisonous.  For this reason many are unwilling to plant this tree if they have young children (or grandchildren) in the family.  I always warn people if I’m selling them a Laburnum, but also tell them the story of the Caragana hedge at the house where I lived from ages 2-8.  Caragana is another plant with poisonous pea-like seed pods and I remember my Mom telling me, “Don’t eat those peas, dear”.  Somehow I managed to survive…

Laburnum x watereri 'Vossii' blossoms

Laburnum x watereri ‘Vossii’ blossoms – bees love them!

The blossoms of Laburnum x watereri ‘Vossii’ appear during May and are glorious, graceful, golden garlands of pea-like florets.  If you have a wisteria sinensis planted nearby they are likely to bloom together, the form echoed in blue and gold, quite spectacular.  I remember a house in Chilliwack BC where someone planted an amazing combination that consisted of a Laburnum, with a wisteria vine growing right on it, planted in front of a burgundy leafed Prunus (flowering plum) – what a fabulous show of colour!  I wouldn’t recommend planting a wisteria to grow up your Laburnum because it’s such a vigorous vine that I think it would swamp the tree after several years.

Laburnum x watereri 'Vossii' May 2010

My Laburnum in early May 2010 – after being transplanted into its (hopefully) permanent location in front of my little greenhouse

My Laburnum stick has flourished, despite being planted and then transplanted the following year (I decided it wasn’t in the right spot).  It has grown at an astounding rate, and has had no pest or disease issues.  It did, however, blow over during a particularly bad windstorm last summer.  I just hauled it back upright and staked it securely with rebar and guy lines to the windward side.  It didn’t even pause in its’ growth after that rude treatment – what a bomb-proof plant!

Laburnum x watereri May 2012

My Laburnum x watereri in May 2012, you can see how I’ve used guy lines to secure it upright, a length of old hose protects the tree trunk against chafing.

After the blossoms are finished I like to cut the seed pods away, it makes the tree look much tidier and prevents seedlings from popping up all over the place.  Laburnum x watereri ‘Vossii’ is really nothing special to look at once the blooming season is done, its trifoliate leaves are rather humdrum and it has no fall colour.  The bark is quite pretty though, a vibrant shade of green, eventually fading with age. I don’t know that I would have chosen to plant one in my yard but of course I couldn’t pass up a free plant!

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About hortophile

I am a very opinionated, slightly obsessed gardener with decades of experience in the retail nursery industry. A lucky resident of the "Wet Coast" of British Columbia I tread a muddy path between practicality and beauty, with my veggie patch, herb garden and fruits vying for position with the beautiful trees, shrubs and flowers that I can't resist. DON'T ask me to choose between them! I believe in environmental responsibility and common sense.
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5 Responses to Laburnum x watereri ‘Vossii’

  1. This was a tree I remember from my childhood. Mum told me not to eat the seeds as they were deadly poisnous. However, as a child I was always tempted to test the theory…

  2. Pingback: Greenhouse Construction Part Three | Hortophile – My New Garden

  3. Pingback: Cytisus Laburnam | Find Me A Cure

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