Small Tree for (northwest) corner of house

gardenbug(8b)September 23, 2010

(Location: Fraser Valley, BC.)

I am looking for ideas/suggestions for a small tree that I can plant on the north west corner of my house. I have a Japanese Maple (Burgundy Lace) that I would like to place there but I wonder if the leaves would burn? I appreciate your suggestions please.

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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

If you are in the open perhaps you might see some occasional cold damage to new spring growth, although I think this is mostly a problem here with lace-leaved cultivars. And I've only noticed much of it one time at a drafty nursery I worked at.

If your place is instead enclosed by other shrubs and trees, probably no problem.

Unless you are down in a hollow, that collects cold air.

Plan on it becoming 6 m high and wide in time. A broad spread is characteristic of this cultivar.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2010 at 12:15PM
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gardenbug(8b)

Thanks bboy, that answers my question. My maple leaf is currently located on the north side of my house on the front lawn. So, maybe I better leave it where it is. I don't have a 6' spread on the nw corner. I will look for something else, perhaps something tall and columnar or cone shaped. Any ideas?

    Bookmark   September 24, 2010 at 12:21PM
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littlecityfoodgarden(8)

My Japanes maples are very fussy, before I plant them in the ground I try them in the location in a pot, if the leaves started to burn I moved them, the red kinds seem to accept sun better than the greens, ie red dragon doesn't mind the full on SW sun but I tried my green lace leaf there and in one afternoon the leaves started to curl! Good luck!

Here is a link that might be useful: blog.mylittlecityfoodgarden.com

    Bookmark   September 24, 2010 at 12:25PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Note that wasn't 6 ft., it was 6 m. In other words, more like 20 ft.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2010 at 12:29AM
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PRO
George Three LLC

no experience with it, but yellowhorn, or Xanthocerus sorbifolia is my current small tree/shrub obsession...

flowers like this and edible nuts!

    Bookmark   September 26, 2010 at 1:53AM
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gardengal48

20 feet is very generous for this selection......you will be too old to garden before it ever achieves that size :-) 10-12 feet is much more likely and with an equal or slightly larger spread.

Most cultivars of Japanese maples can be grown quite easily in full sun in most locations in the Pacific Northwest. Our sunlight, even in summer, is not that intense due to our northerly location. Wind exposure is more of an issue. Of course, any J. maples grown in containers tend to be a bit more vulnerable to any extremes in growing conditions, including sunlight, and will have to be babied somewhat but in the ground full sun is OK for all but the most variegated or reticulated forms.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2010 at 9:20PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Jacobson 1996: "10'-20' tall"

Van Pelt 1996: "Height: 24' Crown Spread: 24' Date Last Measured: 1995 Location: Brinnon, Whitney Gardens"

van Gelderen/van Gelderen 1999: "to 8 m (26 feet) and as wide, heavily branched"

Harris 2000: "to 3.5-4m (12-13ft) and spreading to 5m (15ft) across"

Vertrees/Gregory 2007: "to 20 ft. (6 m) high and wide"

    Bookmark   September 28, 2010 at 9:37PM
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gardengal48

It's all very well to rely on what various texts report as to ultimate size.....and in due course it is certainly possible that this cultivar could achieve that size given sufficient time and ideal growing conditions.

However, it makes just as much sense to evaluate what local growers/vendors of this selection consider to be a representative mature size for this tree (Monrovia, Sunset, ForestFarms, etc.) as well as another dozen or so other, extremely reputable J. maple suppliers. 16' is typically the maximum size quoted but 10-15' seems to be the size range most lean towards with the qualifiers of "compact" and "shrubby" frequently used. I personally have yet to see a specimen of this cultivar that exceeds about 12' in height.

While it's important to consider that plants only stop growing once they have died, it is equally important to consider that a whole lot of often site-specific variables factor into both the rate of growth and eventual mature size. It's impractical and unreasonable to jump on any published size as being the gospel.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2010 at 2:35PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

I did say in time, didn't I.

I was present for the measuring of the 24' tree listed by Van Pelt. So, if personal experience is to be the sacred determining factor for viability of information, well...

Nevermind that this not rare cultivar is fairly well represented by specimens that have been in local gardens for awhile. You can see pretty big ones and their tendency to grow broadly, as many Japanese maples do just walking down Seattle neighborhood streets.

"Arboretum: the Japanese Garden has large 'Burgundy Lace'"

--A.L. Jacobson, Trees of Seattle - Second Edition (2006, Seattle)

    Bookmark   September 29, 2010 at 11:09PM
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George Three LLC

the practicalist vs the stickler! who will win???

    Bookmark   September 30, 2010 at 5:46PM
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gardengal48

LOL!! I know who would be more than happy to have the last word on the subject and as far as I'm concerned, he can have at it :-) I'm just not sure any value is gained from overwhelming folks with data that may or may not ever come to pass.....at least not likely in their lifetime. Some folks just seem to focus on the largest possible eventuality......perhaps making up for other deficiencies in their life?

    Bookmark   September 30, 2010 at 9:43PM
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ian_wa(Sequim)

I generally think of nursery catalogs and tags as less reliable indicators of plant size than published literature such as well researched books and articles. Quite often nurseries don't have a clue how large their stuff can grow and estimate much too conservatively. For example about any time I see Eucalyptus gunnii for sale the tag says it only gets 20' tall. It seems lot of nurseries pass on inaccurate information because they just want their stock to sell - they don't have time to do the research and don't really care about accuracy - though not all the time, of course. And some book authors/publishers are guilty of this as well.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2010 at 11:14PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Yep.

>I don't have a 6' spread on the nw corner. I will look for something else, perhaps something tall and columnar or cone shapedSo even 12' wide would be more than double the size desired by the OP. See: that's the point of mentioning how big particular trees and shrubs grow in time or under good circumstances. It shows what they have a genetic blueprint to do, wherever and whenever they can, including that spot you are thinking of putting one in. Maybe another choice would be better than one that will be likely to eventually explode out of the available space, you matter how inconvenient that might be.

A thousand immature specimens seen do not cancel out the fact of the full development of a particular plant being much greater.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2010 at 12:32AM
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gardenbug(8b)

I was without my computer for about 2 weeks and wasn't able to read your posts until today. Thanks again for all the information and help.

Okay, so now I'm back to...
Any suggestions for say a nice evergreen tree for the northwest corner of my house? Perhaps something columnar but not a cedar tree? Thank you for helping me with this. I really do appreciate all the help you've all given me.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2010 at 2:09PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

The thing about columnar plants at corners is they emphasize rather than soften the corner of the building. If you could manage something more rounded and relaxed than a pointy conifer that would be better.

Additional details would make additional suggestions more likely to be useful to you. More information about the site and what you like.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2010 at 2:26PM
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gardenbug(8b)

I'm open to any suggestions for a small tree to place on the NW corner of my manufactured home. I really want an evergreen tree of some sort. Later, I plan to put something on the left corner of the house. So, I will need ideas for that too. Would a Yew tree work?

I just finished digging a bed around my (3) red rhodies so I can plant some perennials in there. It's on the northwest side of my manufactured home as well. I welcome ideas for that as well. The bed is 15'x (8'at the widest part)

I hope this pic will give you a better idea of what I am trying to do. Thanks again for helping me.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2010 at 4:11PM
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gardenbug(8b)

For some odd reason the pic didn't show up. I hope it will work this time.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2010 at 4:17PM
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gardenbug(8b)

Really sorry. It should work now.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2010 at 4:39PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

I've seen this place before.

Rhododendrons don't like digging among their roots, which are very fine and dense. If the position is cool enough you could plant some visually and compatible woodland perennials like ferns and epimedium near them, but do not chop through the roots to do it.

Lilies could be added for summer color.

Do keep the root zones of the rhododendrons mulched.

The maple is going to grow all the way across the front of the house over time. I would swing the new bed around to include it and take away the ring. After that I would probably dig one of the new rhododendrons up and plant it near the base of the maple, and add some other broad-leaved evergreen shrubs with smaller leaf sizes.

And I would move the other rhododendron(s) to another spot(s) that called for a shrub with such large leaves. Especially on such a small place having the three of them all together in one area is a bit much.

Then you can plant whatever kinds of herbaceous plants and shrubs you want in the new bed.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2010 at 4:47PM
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gardenbug(8b)

Thx bboy. Yes, you have helped me before with my rhodies. I was very careful removing the sod from around them. This weekend, I'll be adding the mulch. The maple is about 5' away from the front of the house so I think extending the bed over to the Maple wouldn't work.

When you say "move the other rhododendron to another spot that called for a shrub with such large leaves' - where would be the best place?

I still need a tree for the corner of my house. Any ideas/suggestions? Thx again.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2010 at 5:42PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Bases of other trees, building corners...

I just saw the two matching planters at the front of the house. While these jibe with the symmetry of the house they do not go with the informal planting you have put in front at all. If you are going to continue developing an informal garden those should really be removed.

'The Honorable Jean Marie de Montague' makes a pretty strong statement in flower. Should look okay with the leaves of the maple at that time. Maybe put a bluish or silvery conifer near the corner of the house, as that kind of coloring would go both with the rhododendron flower color and the maple leaf color. Something not as tense looking as a 'Skyrocket' juniper, maybe a mountain hemlock (these often become quite glaucous after spending some time in lowland gardens).

Here is a link that might be useful: 25 Trees that thrive in the maritime Northwest's Dry Summers

    Bookmark   October 14, 2010 at 10:34PM
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gardenbug(8b)

Thanks again for all your help. Okay, I will move the planters someplace else. I'll take a look at the site on the 25 trees and see if I can find a tree that would look good at the corner of the house. Much appreciated.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2010 at 2:56PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Note that same site has other tree articles etc.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2010 at 12:30PM
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gardenbug(8b)

Thx bboy. I've been looking through the site and am finding it an interesting read. I appreciate your help. Do you think a Yew tree would grow okay there on the NW corner? I love the dark green.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2010 at 9:49PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Main requirement for those good drainage. If you are thinking of a bolt upright type like Irish yew I would not put that there, as it will be an exclamation point that emphasizes the rectilinear shape of the dwelling instead of softening it.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2010 at 10:13AM
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gardenbug(8b)

Hi bboy. Can you please give me some ideas of trees that might look good and will grow there?

    Bookmark   October 19, 2010 at 2:39AM
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bobb_grow

Your photo is not available to me so this is a 'stab in the dark.'

I find that often a Portugese Laurel (prunus lusitanica)does well. Attractive, glossy dark green evergreen leaves, especially attractive in winter b/c of reddish twigs. Good background for a number of other plants. Fairly rapid growing but easily shaped & controlled by pruning. I have not found it difficult to control the height by pruning (left unchecked would grow to 20-30 feet). Takes a lot of sun but also some shade. We are in the Fraser Valley and only once in 25 years did ours lose some leaves due to the very cold winter winds (but, admittedly, we are sheltered from the worst of the northeasters in our neighbourhood).

    Bookmark   October 19, 2010 at 11:26AM
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gardenbug(8b)

hi bobbgrow...thanks for your suggestion. I put my pic back so you can see what I am talking about about. Okay, I'll go and check out the Portugese Laurel. Thanks again.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2010 at 3:28PM
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larry_gene

It may not be difficult to keep a Portugal laurel from becoming huge, but it is a lot of work. This shrub drops many bitter, black fruits in autumn.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2010 at 1:56AM
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gardenbug(8b)

Any other suggestions please?

    Bookmark   October 20, 2010 at 5:57PM
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larry_gene

Eucryphia lucida x milliganii would be very hard to find. My plants from Cistus nursery are about 7 years old, 10 feet tall, narrow, dark green tiny evergreen leaves, are blooming now, no significant damage in teens temperatures or heavy snow load or high winds.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2010 at 11:32PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

That's because "teens" (F.) is not a full trial for this region. Lots of things live as long as it stays above 10 or 15 degrees F. The large-scale culling starts with the single digits. Driving down the outer coast older Cordyline australis first become conspicuous at Coos Bay because that's where the double digit minimum temperatures start.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2010 at 1:18PM
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larry_gene

Its the hardiest of the Eucryphias, may be worth the risk.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2010 at 12:02AM
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botann(z8 SEof Seattle)

I let one Portugal Laurel grow to a tree. It left seedlings all over the place. Robins love the fruit. I finally cut it down because the Sapsuckers took a liking to it and almost killed it. The tree was looking pretty ratty before I took a saw to it. They look better sheared. Way better than English Laurel. The leaves are darker green and not as thick. The white blossoms are attractive and mildly fragrant.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2010 at 9:47AM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

When the tree (Portugal laurel) comes into its own is when in flower. Quite elegant at that time. Shearing removes the elegance. And yes, species is a weed in this region, as is English laurel. Both seed into urban and suburban parks and undeveloped lots. Some parks here have nuisance thickets of holly, ivy, laurels and other Eurasian invasive plants.

I Portugal laurel I noticed in Tukwila, WA was determined to measure 45' x 12'6" x 51' in 1992. There is a photo of its trunks on page 62 of Van Pelt, Champion Trees of Washington State (1996, University of Washington Press, Seattle and London). It was part of a set of two short rows forming a sort of entryway. I believe the planting has since been removed.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2010 at 10:57AM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

I'd expect to be E. glutinosa.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2010 at 10:59AM
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gardenbug(8b)

It doesn't sound like Portugal Laurel would work for me. I think I would prefer something without blooms on that corner. Any other ever green ideas? Not cedar, because they are too common in my area and I have plenty of them already behind my house. Even something that can be shaped rounded or oval?

    Bookmark   October 25, 2010 at 2:25AM
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larry_gene

My various eucryphias have displayed hardiness similar to my hebes: Directly proportional to leaf size.

Pictured: Eucryphia coincidently on the NW corner of the house.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2010 at 1:19AM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Leaf size and hardiness in hebes is not consistently related at all. 7 years and temperatures in the teens is not a representative trial. Supposedly we are about to experience a "vicious" winter, the worst in over 50 years. If this comes to pass it will show why, in part so many older plantings consist almost exclusively of coniferous and deciduous trees and shrubs, with broad-leaved evergreens of similar vintage being limited primarily to hardy rhododendrons, holly, box etc.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2010 at 12:02PM
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