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The Story of Lavender Twist® Weeping Redbud

It was in the spring of 1991 when Charlie and Nancy Hanks (former owners of Westfield Nursery in Westfield, N.Y.) came in to pick up their order at Brotzman’s Nursery and asked for help in propagating a weeping redbud.  Apparently someone in their town had noticed the tree growing in the yard of Miss Cornelia (Connie) Covey, and there was interest in giving a small plant as a gift.

Nancy sent Tim Brotzman some scions and photographs.  He was able to successfully graft one out of the 50 that were attempted.  By the end of the year, Brotzman’s Nursery had arranged to buy the propagation rights to the tree and eventual transplanting to Madison, Ohio. 

 Connie (she died in 2006) was a very endearing lady and the new selection was named after her (Cercis canadensis ‘Covey’).  However, when Tim first saw the contorted, 30 + year old tree in flower, he remarked to her that it was full of lavender twists.   That descriptive name, Lavender Twist ®, stuck and was registered for marketing purposes.  Because of its distinctive habit, Covey was granted the protection of a U.S. Plant Patent (#10328) in 1998.

Eventually Charlie Hanks helped move the parent tree to Brotzman’s Nursery in Ohio.  Connie relocated to another home with less property to maintain and the tree, which had grown unceremoniously in her yard for so many years, may prove to be one of that decade’s most novel introductions.

As to the story about the tree, Connie told Tim that in the early 1960’s her brother and mother were returning to N.Y. from a trip to Florida.  While unpacking the car, Connie's mother gave her a little tree in a small pot, telling her to plant it in the yard.   This turned out to be the weeping redbud.  Connie had no idea where, why or how they received it, but she did speculate that her brother may have noticed it while their mother was taking a rest break.  What are the odds of this happening?  It would be like finding a needle in a haystack!!

 Connie placed the weeping redbud in her front yard as part of a shrub border.  Eventually a large lilac began to grow into and on top of it.  Connie’s neighbor remembered how he was helping to saw down the lilac when he came to a strange looking, twisted plant.  Not knowing what it was, he left it, untouched.  What a lucky break for all of us that he did.

Connie Covey with her dog Luke in front of her Lavender Twist®


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