xeriscaping in the far north

fernsk(z2 Canada)April 12, 2008

Hi all

I'm going to be starting a new shade bed in some of the

"common property" in front of my townhouse. I would like to create a bed that doesn't require alot of maintenance once it is established. I've planted hostas, lady's mantle, ferns [go figure], lady of the valley and all are doing very well but now I've got permission to expand the bed and make a new one on a strip between sidewalks [about 3 ft wide by 8 ft long] I was thinking that it would be good to include some smallish shrubs - nothing that requires alot of pruning and nothing that gets very big because some people have a security concern about big bushes near entrances. Does anyone have ideas that I could use for both shrubs and plants? I plan to create a lasagna garden over existing unhappy lawn to plant into.



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prairie_gal_z2b(Sask, Canada)

You'll definitely need some small cute little Barberry's in yellow-green and burgundy...Spireas come in petite sizes too and bloom for most of the summer unless you're against them, maybe some really nice dwarf conifers (like weeping norway spruce or a prostrate colorado spruce), or a really small shapely blue junipers would be nice...oh the possibilities!!!!

    Bookmark   April 12, 2008 at 11:43PM
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fernsk(z2 Canada)

I'm starting to really like spireas after doing a little research on them - they seem to come in a nice variety of sizes with different shapes and flowers. Do they like shade tho'? With Barberry's are they terribly "thorny"? I also like th idea of maybe a dwarf mugo pine...

Now I'm enjoying the posting on Shrubs - which would you grow again... - all these postings provide so much information and help

Thanks for the info


    Bookmark   April 14, 2008 at 4:59PM
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Pudge 2b

Fern, just how much shade is there in the area?

    Bookmark   April 14, 2008 at 5:24PM
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I'm going to suggest Dwarf European Cranberry and Dwarf Balsam Fir, both of which should do well in shade.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2008 at 6:38PM
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fernsk(z2 Canada)

The area in question is on the north [front] of my Townhouse. The townhouses are arranged in a kind of rectangle with a courtyard left in the middle so because of the shade cast by the East and West townhouses, the area gets about 1-3 hours of sun first thing in the morning and 1-3 hours in the late afternoon - that is direct sunlight. The variance comes from the distance out from the building - about 2 ft out gets the low end [1 hour] while the area that is between 2 and 6 feet gets between 2 and 3 hours both morning and afternoon. Because of the white stucco of the buildings there is alot of reflected light in the courtyard. There is a very large cedar type of plant right against the building that grows straight up the building higher than the 2 stories. [the second stage of my plan is to convince the board to remove this once I get some other shrubs established]. Currently I've got hostas, ferns, lamium, lily of the valley, lady's mantel growing so I think that there is enough light to support some shrubs - and prior to most of the area getting dug out 2 years ago to replace the water pipes there was a globe cedar - it was my only fatality to the area being totally dug out [really deep hole] for almost a year - the perennials were able to survive in a holding bed in my back yard] Anyways that is the story of the kind of shade


    Bookmark   April 14, 2008 at 8:05PM
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Pudge 2b

Well all I can really think of is Dogwood. I really like my silverleaf dogwood and although mine is in full sun, I think it would really brighten a shady area - a light yearly pruning will keep its size in check. Amur Maple is supposed to be quite shade tolerant and apparently (according to a book I have) so are Viburnums. Does the area get loaded with shoveled snow in the winter? If so, do you think breaking branches will be an issue?

You didn't mention Bleeding Heart and Goatsbeard which are both excellent larger perennials for a shady area.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2008 at 10:10PM
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fernsk(z2 Canada)

Most of the area just gets natural snowfall - I wouldn't put anything too close to the sidewalk. I had thought of a dogwood but I always see them in Sunny areas so didn't think hard enough.

I'm taking it that spireas are likely not a good choice - I liked the look of the Bridal wreath ones - the white colour would kind of pop in the shade.

Viburnums are cranberries right? So would they provide some bird interest - my cat loves to sit in his condo looking out the window.

Well all I can say is that it is a good thing that I've got time to do my research [ha ha ha]



    Bookmark   April 14, 2008 at 10:40PM
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Sherwood Botsford(3a)

Dogwoods will do ok with 3 hours of sun. Potentillas may
be ok too. Both tolerate being pruned hard. Korean Lilac only gets about 3' high. It may want mroe sun than that.

One of the golden ninebarks might be pretty there. Many of
them go green in full sun, but stay yellow all sumemr if
they don't get too many hot days. In the evening it would
shine like a beacon.

Wolf willow tolerates shade, has a heavy sweet scent in
spring. (not a willow -- relative of russian olive)
Also called silverberry. Silver grey leaves. Pretty.

Herbacious plants: Bunchberry (canadian dogwood), woods violets (flowers like white johny-jumpups) lungwort.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2008 at 12:48AM
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fernsk(z2 Canada)

Thanks everyone for your helpfulness. I've been looking up various shrubs and have come to really like the Ivory Halo Dogwood - I like the red stems for winter interest. I'm beginning to think that if I have 2 dogwoods on either side of a Viburnum then find a couple of other shrubs that wouldn't be "paired" - I like the look of the golden ninebarks but then I saw one that is called Summer wine ninebark and it looks gorgeous. I think that I would also like to include 1 or 2 dwarf mugo pines and in the area between the 2 sidewalks a really low growing mounding spirea. That area gets the most sun I would say about 5 hours. For perennials I was wondering about ligularia? I like monster plants and it seems to fit the bill


    Bookmark   May 2, 2008 at 5:00PM
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explorer_mb(z1b MB Canada)

Hi Fern,

I just ordered Ligularia 'The Rocket" and I think that is a great choice as I've seen some nice ones here that really fill out in a shady area. I think they like abit of moisture though,,, which shouldn't be hard in a shady area..


    Bookmark   May 2, 2008 at 9:29PM
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