We lost some trees

Stoutcat(7b)January 4, 2012

Due to late summer and autumn storms here on the Cape, We lost a 50' 30-year-old maple in our back yard, and a 20' maple and 20' cherry from the edge of the conservation area bordering our yard.

Now the whole yard looks completely bare, that side of the house is now unprotected from heavy winds, and the birds, which used to have the shelter of the big maple, are coming to our feeders in fewer numbers. We want to plant some trees to replace the big maple, but nothing that will grow as large.

We're thinking of possibly putting in a native species, and personally I'd like a small-ish decorative flowering tree or something that will attract birds; but honestly, I have no real idea what to plant, when to plant it, or how to go about it.

Any suggestions would be gratefully appreciated.

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tree_oracle(z6b MA)

What about a crabapple? Lots of sizes and flower colors to choose from, great fall foliage, and the birds love to eat the crabapples. The size sound about right, too. Crabapples can also handle the less than ideal soil down on the Cape.

Another good one would be a Hawthorn particularly a variety called Winter King. It has essentially the same attributes as a crabapple. It has a few thorns but that doesn't distract the birds. It also can handle the soil on the Cape.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2012 at 4:34PM
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I personally hate the Hawthorns. The previous owner of our house planted a bunch of Hawthorns around the pond. And it has been a nightmare getting rid go them - because of the thorns. Gorgeous in spring. But a real hassle to cut or prune. And totally forget it if you have young children who like climbing trees.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2012 at 5:09PM
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Surprisingly, the tree that suffered the least damage in the October storm where I am (just south of Springfield, MA) was crabapple. It lost a few branches but nowhere near as many as the giant mature oaks. The reason may be that most of its leaves had already fallen.

Dogwoods didn't fare as well--two out of four mature trees snapped completely off 10 ft. from the ground and had to be cut down. Maples suffered slightly less damage than the oaks but enough the foliage will be sparse the next few years.

Neighbor's catalpa came through with about the same amount of damage as my maples. A branch from his mature tulip tree close to the boundary impaled itself in my roof.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2012 at 6:01PM
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There are problems with both hawthorns and crabapples here because of fungal diseases, cedar apple rust and cedar hawthorn rust. There are just too many eastern red cedars (Juniperus virginiana) on the Cape.

I have a few Stewartia pseudocamilla, and really like this tree. Not at all native, but maybe "regionally significant" in that Polly Hill (of the PH Arboretum on Marthas Vineyard) worked with them extensively. Not too big, nice clean foliage, flowers in late spring ... excellent bark and good growth habit.

If you're feeling up to a challenge, I don't think there's a more lovely small tree than Franklinia altamaha. Known to be finniky and a little unreliable, it has gorgeous glossy foliage and blooms in late summer, when the flowers are really appreciated.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2012 at 9:27PM
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I did a bit of Googling and have linked a publication from Ohio State with a list (on pg 3) of rust-resistant cultivars of crabapple and hawthorne.

I like both crabs and hawthornes due to their flowers and the way the fruit attracts birds in late winter. In a former house we had a crab that drew birds just as the fruit was starting to thaw in spring - lots of entertainment watching them gobbling every last fruit. I haven't lived with a Winter King hawthorne, but they are common at work and seem to stay pretty healthy. The fruit is quite brightly colored, even after freezing, the bark pretty in winter, and it has spring flowers (not too nice scent, though) and fall color. Winter King has fewer thorns than most other hawthorns.

I agree that Stewartia are nice as are Amelanchier. I've read that in some areas Amelanchiers are disease prone, but there are lots of healthy ones growing here and they are one of my favorite trees for their early flowers and nice fruit (though quickly eaten by the birds.) I like both Cornus kousa (Kousa dogwood, not native, but I don't see volunteers here) and Cousa alternifolia (pagoda dogwood) for flowers, fruit, and fall color. Pagoda dogwood is a native and the entire plant is in constant motion for a couple of weeks in August as the birds eat the berries.

Here is a link that might be useful: list of rust resistant cultivars crab and hawthorn

    Bookmark   January 5, 2012 at 7:03AM
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tree_oracle(z6b MA)

The statement about crabapples and cedar apple rust is just not applicable to many of the modern cultivars as evidenced by the huge number of crabapples and eastern cedar coexisting throughout eastern Massachusetts. There are several varieties of crabapple that are highly resistant to cedar apple rust and fungal diseases in general. Here are few names of highly resistant cultivars that are also commonly found in the trade:

Donald Wyman
Indian Summer
Prairifire (especially resistant to all diseases)
Professor Sprenger
Strawberry Parfait

I personally have a Prairiefire crabapple that has never had any trace of disease and there are tons of easter cedar trees within a two mile radius of my house. I live close to the ocean and my soil is terrible like it is on the Cape yet this tree has never missed a beat.

As far as hawthorns, the newer cultivars are highly resistant to cedar hawthorn rust. Autumn Glory and Winter King that I mentioned before are highly resistant to disease.

It is not unusual for any tree to get a fungal infection from time to time. This can be controlled by spraying with an antifungal agent like Daconil or my personal favorite, Bayer Advanced.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2012 at 7:23AM
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Many thanks for all the responses. Someone here had also suggested a flowering crabapple, so we may start doing some research on that...

NHbabs, thanks for the OhioOnline link; that'll be a great starting place.

Now, any thoughts as to when the best time to plant a new tree is?

    Bookmark   January 6, 2012 at 12:07AM
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tree_oracle(z6b MA)

The best time is in the early Fall. The second best time is in the early Spring. If you buy a tree that's potted in a container then make sure you break up an roots that are compressed and circling the rootball. It you plant a ball and burlapped tree, then cut away the burlap and metal cage (if any) from the top half of the rootball. Make sure you don't plant the tree too deeply. The root flare where the trunk widens right before the root system should be planted slightly higher than grade to account for settling of the tree in the hole. Make sure that you water it periodically if we don't get consistent rainfall next year.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2012 at 7:02AM
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Tree oracle: Many thanks for the planting advice. Hoping to find the right tree so that we can plant in early Spring...

    Bookmark   January 6, 2012 at 9:35AM
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Steve Massachusetts Zone 5b

My favorite small trees are:
1. Stewartia Pseudocamelia
2. Magnolia x loebneri 'Lenoard Messel'
3. Cornus Kousa 'Wolfeye'

Check out the recommendation at the Cary Awards. These awards are given for those trees and shrubs that grow best in New England.


    Bookmark   January 6, 2012 at 12:32PM
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Another thing about crabapples to research would be to find those that are non-suckering. Supposedly there is such a thing. The suckering is a real pita. I have SugarTyme (white) which gets no disease and Indian Magic (pink) which gets a little, especially when young.

You may also want to consider a Japanese maple. I have Acer palmatum Emperor I and it has done very well. Grew fairly quickly and holds the color well in full sun. I'm not sure how they do on the Cape.

I had the same effect with that October storm - the oaks and dogwoods really suffered. One of my crabapples had an interesting side affect. There had been one very tall branch that was disproportionately taller than the rest of the branches and I was contemplating pruning. Well, its not tall anymore. It bent down with the weight of the snow and now blends in great with all the other branches.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2012 at 10:41PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

For anyone thinking about Amelanchier, I bought one tree and two shrub form because they were native, offered fruit, fall foliage and spring bloom. None of them have done well in our garden. The tree had foliar disease every year. The shrubs were eaten by winter moths every year and didn't recover very well from that. We finally removed the tree that had foliar problems and I'm ready to do the same with the others.

Our large Maples were not touched by that ice storm in October, but the neighbors trees had a lot of damage. Silver Maples for the most part which are prone to that. We have a Japanese Maple that was not touched either. We had one Viburnum have a main trunk crack. We do have a Dogwood tree that was untouched as well. It is a Rutgers variety called 'Constellation' which is more disease resistant than the actual native variety. It is also more upright in form. It has been doing very well. It actually stays in bloom for 2 months, which really surprised me. It doesn't fruit as well as the native though.

Also, if you are still wondering about other options that would be native, you might try a book by William Cullina who used to work for the New England Wildflower Society, called Native Trees, Shrubs and Vines.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2012 at 6:45AM
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terrene(5b MA)

PM2, do you have Cedar trees nearby? I planted a large expensive Amelanchier in one of the most focal points in my front garden. It did pretty well and had wonderful berries the first year, but has gone downhill since. It gets worse Rust every year. Despite wonderful flowering and perfect fertilization last Spring, the foliage and berries looked awful during the summer! Well, duh, there's a huge Cedar tree in the front yard, although I didn't know it was a problem at the time. I will have to spray a fungicide, or remove the tree and plant something else.

Now I wish I'd planted a Cornus florida or Cornus kousa in this spot. Both are beautiful, I think the C. florida might attract more birds though, because they love the berries.

The Crabapples get some fungus but not as bad as the Amelanchier. The birds and pollinators absolutely LOVE the crabapples - they attract wildlife during every season.

My Silver Maple and two of the neighbor's Silver maple trees got clobbered in the October storm. Unfortunately they were still fully leafed out, and the weight of the snow broke a lot of branches.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2012 at 7:42PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Hi Terrene, that sounds like my experiences with the Amelanchier tree. The first year it was great. Flowered well and was full of berries that the robins stripped off it in short order. Then it went downhill from there. I can't be sure what disease it was but I don't think it was rust. The stems, the bark and the leaves were all effected. In year two I had to prune some dead branches off it. Then it came back, but flowered less and one year I didn't get any berries. All the while it was growing taller. It is actually a fast grower. But had it for 5 years and it never got any better, so it came out last year.

No, I don't have a Cedar anywhere nearby that I remember seeing. White pine, Maples, Spruce, Taxus. It was planted near a Japanese Maple.

I considered getting a Cornus florida, but I was scared off by the disease issues. I made up for not getting it, by planting a Cornus racemosa which grew very quickly into a large shrub and just last year, year five, was finally starting to produce good amounts of berries, when the Maple next door landed on it in that ice storm in October. I'll have to prune it back hard in the spring. It does sucker significantly, otherwise, it's been a great shrub.

We had a Crabapple where we used to live and they were great. Fantastic spring bloom, tons of berries. Birds galore. We didn't live there long, so I don't remember any issues with them.

Sorry to hear about your Silver Maples. What a freak storm that was. So strange how much damage was done. We've had much worse storms do less. I guess it had to be the leaves still on the trees that was just too much.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2012 at 6:25AM
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terrene(5b MA)

I was concerned about the disease and drought tolerance of the Cornus florida also, but there is a large one in front of an office building I take care of, and it is beautiful. Not to mention the fall color can be spectacular. My Amelanchier doesn't have enough leaves left by fall to have any color! Yuck.

Funny, some of my Cornus racemosa seedlings flowered last year for the first time too! Planted them in 2007 and 2008. The flowers are kind of plain, but the berries are really pretty. The berries disappeared quickly, but I never did see which birds were eating them, because they are over in the side yard and didn't notice.

Same with the Cornus alternifolia seedlings - first flowers with blue berries last year. This is a native tree with a beautiful form. Berries also disappeared quickly, and didn't see which birds were eating them. I am going to have to pay closer attention to what birds like these Dogwoods!

Thanks for the condolences, but I am not too upset those Silver maples lost branches. It thinned them out. My xeric garden and those Dogwood trees are going to get more sun! Yippee, any more sun on this lot is a good thing.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2012 at 1:08AM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

If you do decide on the Cornus florida, I will be interested to hear how it works out. They have a lot going for them if they can stay healthy.

Yes, I was very happy to see berries, and the habit of the shrub gives the birds a lot of cover and I couldn't see which birds were eating them either.

I am considering getting a Cornus alternifolia to go with the hybrid Cornus tree we have. I love their form too. I was considering a variegated form.

I have more part sun than full sun and for the longest time I would have loved more full sun, but I guess I have adapted and I really enjoy our part sun now. I have just enough full sun. About the only thing I would want more full sun for, would be the vegetable garden, but I think I would have to move to improve in that area.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2012 at 11:32PM
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tree_oracle(z6b MA)

I've had a Cornus florida for years. It's a cultivar called Cherokee Brave. Aesthetically, it's in a great location but as far as the welfare of the tree it's in a lousy location (hot, dry, infertile) but it has done great nevertheless. When it was younger, we had one exceptionally cold and rainy spring where it got a fungal infection. I sprayed it with Bayer Advanced that year and it totally stopped the infection. The next year and every year since, it has been fine. It puts on a very good show in the spring especially with my Green Giant Arborvitae as a backdrop. It has a good fruit set later in the season too which the birds love. Here's a couple of pictures from about five years ago:

    Bookmark   January 14, 2012 at 9:46AM
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Love your Cherokee Brave. I struggled with Brave for several years in a shady location -- a couple of hours early morning and a couple of hours late afternoon sun. It took a few years to finally get a partial bloom from it. It never bloomed much and had lots of foliage problems as the summer progressed in most years. I lost it to Snowtober and I am not sad a bit. I might try 'Satomi' in that spot. Satomi is mostly (or all?) Kousa and not florida. I lost a chunk of a Satomi in another location. It may be too deformed to save. The jury is still out.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2012 at 10:18PM
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tree_oracle(z6b MA)

In this part of the country where the sun isn't as strong during the warmer months, I think Cornus Florida should be planted in full sun to maximize the number of blooms and to prevent fungal diseases. The same advice probably goes for Kousa, too. Having said that though, I have a Kousa cultivar called "Big Apple" that is planted on the northern side of my house. Since the house is tall, the tree only gets late afternoon sun (but bright shade the rest of the day). Despite this, the tree puts on a great bloom show and fruit set every year and has never gotten a fungal infection. It also grows like a weed, too. The fruits are huge as the name implies. The birds still love the fruits even though they are bigger than the bird's head. I'll have to get a few pics of that tree this year.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2012 at 7:53AM
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