Lilacs and Fenceline Plantings

gerry1(2b Sk)May 5, 2006

I am planning on planting a 'living' fence on my side of my neighbours fence, replacing vines that required just too much upkeep. Am thinking to white Lilacs. My neighbour has a lovely lilac growing on her side which brought lilacs to mind. When at the nurseries this weeks some beautifully grown evergreens caught our eye ( Alberta spruce, cedars and such) but am thinking to size. I need tall enough for privacy yet not so tall as to cast shade on my neighbor's garden. The planting will also be the backdrop to my perennials. Am also looking for a good deep purple lilac for another area. Would appreciate hearing what lilac varieties are growing well and 'behaving' well for you. Suggestions as to fenceline plantings welcome ... plantings you have found pleasing, ideal spacing space away from the fence to keep it friendly, any hints you think might be of help in this major revamp!

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I'm not sure on varieties of lilacs (I have a few but they were here when I moved in). One other option for a living fence is cotoneaster. A lot of people use it for hedges around here. It grows relatively quickly, can be shaped very nicely. I've seen people with them as high as six feet, and even shaped into a living arbour at the gate. They do pop up in the flowerbeds occasionally, though they don't seem to send out any runners and they can be doug out (unlike the caragana hedge I had along the front of my yard). I particularly like them for the dark glossy foliage and the colors they turn in the fall.
Just another relatively low maintenance option. I look forward to the responses on lilacs, as I'm looking to put in a few as well.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2006 at 1:02PM
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I have a lilac hedge running down both sides of my property. A friend had some over grown lilacs and told us we could just go in and take what we wanted. So thats what we did. We came up a bit short on the one side and were going to buy some.....but then another friend said we could take some suckers from hers. These were a bit smaller, so its shorter but will catch up in time, I guess. These were the same kind of lilacs, the light purple variety. They were planted to make a living fence. They have been planted for a few years now and although they are growing and fairly quickly.......we had to put a fence behind the one side last year. This year we are also going to put in a fence behind them on the other side. Last year I added a white, yellow and pink and a couple of years a go I added a 'sensation' which is purple with white edges.

I don't think I would say lilacs are really low maintanence......because some of them will sucker, and to keep it looking nice and tidy.....the suckers will have to be removed when they arn't where you want them. When they bloom though....the scent is wonderful!


    Bookmark   May 5, 2006 at 2:36PM
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Pudge 2b

I grow a nice deep purple and highly fragrant type called Pocohontas. It suckers very mildly, and I've only trimmed it lightly in 8 years of growth. It's never had a year where it hasn't bloomed like mad and is slightly earlier than other varieties. It's a really, really nice lilac that I'd definitely recommend.

I don't grow any white ones but I do have a couple light pink called Maiden's Blush that are still a young shrubs - the blooms are dark pink in bud, opening to a light pink and then fading. It's also very fragrant and is also supposed to be non-suckering (as is the Pocohontas supposed to be).

    Bookmark   May 5, 2006 at 7:21PM
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northspruce(z3a MB CDA)

Was it Ian, or Al, I don't remember... one of our guys has a beeeeautiful pale purple and white (mix) one. I just love it. The problem for me is that I have a city lot and they take up a lot of room. I have the old fashioned suckering ones down each side of my front yard.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2006 at 8:33PM
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northspruce(z3a MB CDA)

Oh I remembered - it was Ian and the lilac was called "Beauty of Moscow". Pale purplish-pink buds and white flowers.

I found a nice website with pics of several lilacs (the nursery is in Vermont, but it's nice to look at pics).

Here is a link that might be useful: Lilac List

    Bookmark   May 5, 2006 at 8:45PM
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hunnerbun(Z-0b, Manitoba)

Well Gil, I followed the link to the Lilac pics and went to the next page and found this Tamarix ramosissima 'Pink Cascade'.

Looks like an interesting tree...I wonder how well it would do here? It says it is rated to zone 2, I know the lilacs say zone 2, but there are lilacs growing where to get one of these things....

    Bookmark   May 6, 2006 at 9:33AM
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northspruce(z3a MB CDA)

Hunner, I had never even heard of that shrub before - it looks interesting... but I did a little research and it seems to be badly invasive in some areas of the States. The page from BC says it hasn't yet become a problem there. I couldn't find anything about its growth habits up here in the frozen north :0)

Some interesting points:
- it's commonly known as Saltcedar
- all sources say Zone 2 so it's probably pretty hardy
- apparently it can excrete salt from its stems (!) eek
- flowers better when cut to the ground every fall

Innnnteresting! I always like to enable, whether on purpose or by accident ;0)

    Bookmark   May 6, 2006 at 10:28AM
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gerry1(2b Sk)

We finally have spring here and it's wonderful. We managed to miss the snow this week, while there were a few flakes along with the sleet it was mostly cold rain. Great to be seeing the sun today!

I am so pleased to be hearing from you, finding just what experiences others have had along with information and excellent links will make choosing just that much easier. I had a beautiful hedge of lilacs in my country garden but being the old fashioned lilacs they did require a lot of pruning. Carpal tunnel done on both wrists now has me cutting back on that which requires too much in the way of trimming and pruning. While I doubt that the newer varieties of lilacs could ever be as fragrant as those old fashioned ones, I am needing lilacs or shrubs that do not sucker excessively or require constant trimming. Should any of you have some photos of your privacy fences feel free to share! I have been printing some of your pics for inspiration as well as motivation. I want to avoid having to replace mistakes ... want to get it right the first time around.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2006 at 11:27AM
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Gerry, carpal tunnel is rotten to deal with, DH has also had problems in both wrists (six years in the meat cutting industry). Have you considered getting an electric or gas hedge trimmer? DH used it to shape our caragana (before it got ripped out) and didn't have any problem with his wrists after. This might let you have the hedge you want without the pain/numbness caused by hand pruning.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2006 at 11:40AM
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SeaOtterCove(2b BC)

I had come across Tamarix ramosissima 'Pink Cascade' in a book about trees. I thought about it but with all the warnings I came across about how it will spread and take over large areas I was hesitant. (Couldn't find any information about it spreading in cold zones). Then found the information Gil mentions about how it leaches salt. Apparently it can get to be enough that nothing will grow near it. Since I'm on a city lot and would like to be able to plant everywhere it never made it onto my tree list.

Now back to the lilacs. Here is a nursery in Quebec that you can order from. I haven't dealt with them so I can say how there are. They do have one incredible listing of lilacs to choose from. If you order anything you'll have to let us know what they are like.


Here is a link that might be useful: Select Plus International Lilac Nursery

    Bookmark   May 6, 2006 at 12:48PM
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Pudge 2b

I have a Tamarisk - planted year before last, and last year I cut it to the ground in spring. This year I've trimmed slightly but am waiting to see where buds form before hacking it back any further. It's in the new shrub bed I planted a couple years ago so there's lots of room between plants. I do have some Gypsophila near it, though, and last year there were plenty of Calendula around the Tamarisk - no ill effects that I noticed.

Not much to look at in this pic, but here it is

    Bookmark   May 6, 2006 at 7:27PM
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Crazy_Gardener(Z2b AB Canada)

Hi Gerry, last year I ordered these Lilacs from Cornhill Nurseries in NB. All of them came back this year with no dieback. They're only in there second year, so I can't really say how they preform yet.
Charles Joy
Krasavita Moskvy (Beauty of Moscow)
Miss Canada
Mme. Lemoine

You might want to check out Cornhill Nursery, they send good quality stock for reasonable prices. Althou the shipping is expensive but well worth it!
They have one called 'Agincourt Beauty'- Large single deepest purple that might interest you.

Here's last years photo of my Commom Lilac hedge Syringa vulgaris. Good old-fashioned hardy favorite.

Happy Gardening!

Here is a link that might be useful: Cornhill Nursery

    Bookmark   May 6, 2006 at 8:34PM
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Wow, I just wanted to say, gerry, that you sure sound like a good, considerate neighbour - too bad everyone didn't think the way you do!

I'm a little out of your zone - but you might want to include some red-leaved shrubs along with conifers in your planting. Maybe you could ask the people at the nursery what they'd recommend, as well. : )

    Bookmark   May 7, 2006 at 5:07AM
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hunnerbun(Z-0b, Manitoba)

Now I (search dummy again...) searched for info and don't remember reading about the salt thing....other than the fact that it tolerates salt...I couldn't find anywhere that said it leaches salt.

I was thinking I could use it in the back corner to hide the composter as opposed to in a main bed...maybe not if it leaches salt....probably not a good thing for the compost then.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2006 at 12:18PM
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northspruce(z3a MB CDA)

The salt excreting thing was in the Washington State weed control website:
"The stems and leaves of mature plants secrete salt, forming a crust above and below ground that inhibits other plants (Sudbrock 1993). Saltcedar is also an enormous water consumer."

I don't know if this is only in saline soils or when exposed to salt spray. I really can't see the shrub creating its own salt to drop on the ground. I think the problem is that the plant can suck up the salt from its surroundings, concentrate and excrete it, and leave it all in a crust on the surrounding soil.

Pudge thank you for the pic. It looks very nice. Did it bloom for you yet?

Sorry about the hijack of the lilac thread.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2006 at 1:30PM
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ian_bc_north(z3 BC)

Hello Gerry,
I purchased the Krasavita Moskvy (Beauty of Moscow) lilacs in part on the recommendation of Lois HoleÂs "Favorite Trees & Shrubs."
She says that it will grow to 3-3.7m and have a spread of 2.4-3m. It is also a variety with a reputation for not suckering much.
There are a lot of lilac hedges around this town about 2-3m high and maybe 1.2m wide. They seem to keep in good order with a good trim every few years.
If you are unable to do the work yourself, could you hire occasional help?
Mine have only been flowering for a couple of years so far. I planted them in part to screen my work/ compost bin area.
I donÂt have any concerns about shading any of my neighbours as I am north of my principal neighbour, who has tall evergreens shading me. My other neighbour is east of me, across a lane way.

The photo is of the Krasavita Moskvy (Beauty of Moscow) lilac in bloom.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2006 at 3:29AM
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Yep thats the lilac I am looking for. I was hoping to find it locally this spring. So far I haven't. Its sooooo pretty!


    Bookmark   May 8, 2006 at 9:35AM
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I've got to weigh in on this one. I am a huge fan of mixed tree and shrub borders. If you include some evergreens such as the newer columnar spruce, pines, junipers, you will have year round interest and they don't grow very tall very fast. Also shrubs with colored bark, such as the dogwoods and for fall colour such as cotoneaster and burning bush. Make sure you mix up the heights, but group your shrubs by type and punctuate them with a taller specimen here and there. The length of the fence should suggest how many varieties you choose. Less is more. Also, don't line everything up but make the border wide and loose.

As for lilacs, I too would recommend 'Beauty of Moscow' and 'Pocahontas'. When choosing lilacs for my own yard, those are two I just had to have. I picked up my BoM at Aspen Greenhouses last year at a very reasonable price and 2 Pocahontas this year at Greenland, though they were a bit more than I wanted to pay.


    Bookmark   May 8, 2006 at 10:58AM
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gerry1(2b Sk)

Oh I want so many of those wonderful lilacs! Sharon, I keep going back to your pic of those old fashioned lilacs and can almost smell them! I so miss that wonderful country garden at lilac time! But fortunately I do have a large lot that allows for a good many plantings!
Ian, Northspruce was certainly right about your Beauty of Moscow, it looks lovely and am going to have to find a spot in my garden for that one. My list is growing! As to your comments regarding shading ... I just realized that I live on the north side of the fence, why did I not think of that! So it won't matter just what peaks over! I really appreciate all your comments and suggestions, must get back and spend more time on those wonderful links. I am hoping to have a good idea as to what I am looking for by Thursday or at least in the coming weeks!

    Bookmark   May 8, 2006 at 10:59AM
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