This is actually a fairly under-utilized plant, which is a darn shame. I love the Chinese Fringe Tree (chionanthus virginicus), partly because it’s just so unusual that its blooms stop people in their tracks. The best advice I can give if you’re on the fence – and lucky enough to live in northern Virginia – is to go take a look at some great specimens in bloom. The photo here was taken the first week of May last year, on the walkway exiting the new Mount Vernon visitors’ center. I was killing time waiting for a landscape contractor to meet me at a site down the road, so I grabbed my camera and got some use out of my annual pass. The squirrels were incredibly fearless. I thought this little guy was going to run right up my pants leg.