'Bradford' Pears (Pyrus calleryana) are a popular tree in our area for good reasons: beautiful early flowers, high tolerance of stress, and a stand-out fall color on glossy leaves that stay on the tree longer into the fall than most other species.
However, there are some very important unfavorable qualities in the species: its invasive nature and narrow branching angles that result in unstable limbs. Bradford Pear's are widely planted across the Triangle, including this specimen in our front yard which, judging by its size, was planted when the our house was built. We originally had two trees, planted side by side along the road. Last summer, we noticed severe canopy die back on one of them. Upon further inspection of the base of the tree we found the culprit: circling roots that are slowly girdling the trees! What a tribute to breaking up the roots before planting! We cut one down last year, and this one will too die, possibly this year as its blooming is becoming patchy and frequent water sprouts are a sure sign of stress. The possibility of picking a new full-sun specimen tree is exciting, as there are so many wonderful choices. Two I've been eying are 'Thundercloud' Purple-leafed Plum (Prunus cerasifera) and Golden Rain tree (Koelreuteria paniculata)
"God has cared for these trees, saved them from drought, disease, avalanches, and a thousand tempests and floods. But he cannot save them from fools." ~John Muir