Small shrub recommendation for shady spot

highalttransplant(z 5 Western CO)February 25, 2009

This will be in a corner of the backyard, with a 6' fence on the east and south sides, and the house is to the west of it, so it will be in a mostly shady, somewhat sheltered location. It will be a focal point, and needs to be taller than it is wide, say maybe 5'H x 3'W. Any suggestions? I need to decide quickly, before DH changes his mind about me digging up more sod, LOL. Oh, and nothing pink or blue, please.

Oh, and a couple of other completely unrelated questions. Do Garlic Chives show up later than the regular Chives? The Chives are starting to poke their heads up, but no sign of the Garlic Chives. Just wondering if I should sow some more, or give it more time.

Also, how early do you guys start moving your perennials around? The snowpack is gone, but the soil is pretty wet still, so I know I have to let it dry a bit. Do you wait until there is new growth, or go ahead and do it while they are dormant?

Thanks for letting me pick your brains a bit : )

Bonnie

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Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado

I canÂt help with the bushes, Bonnie, but with the transplanting question, it sounds like your soil is too wet at this point. If you dig in it when itÂs too wet, besides making an incredible MESS of your shovel and yourself, youÂll wind up compacting the soil and when it dries youÂll wind up with something akin to concrete! So wait till itÂs dried enough that you can easily dig in it without having it stick to the trowel/shovel or turning into mud balls! Not sure how to describe it, but it should be somewhat "fluffable" when itÂs dried enough to work in it!

Beyond that, I transplant/divide perennials pretty much any time I have time when the soilÂand airÂconditions make it possible. IÂve been planning to start doing some digging/moving/dividing in the last couple days, but keep winding up with other stuff to do. Was gonna start today, but when I went out and started looking around I made the mistake of checking out my "escape proof" garden (21" between the shed and the fence), and itÂs needed some serious modification ever since I moved in here and started planting there, so that turned out to be my project today! It was a tough job and included sawing out a 3" diameter chunk of cottonwood rootÂin a space thatÂs 21" wideÂbut itÂs done now, and looks SO much better than it did before! After I get something done, I LOVE to go back, overandoverandover, and look at my accomplishment! With the adjustments I made today I think the sweet violets, lily-of-the-valley, and sweet woodruff should finally start to fill in the entire area! And I wonÂt be rotting out the sill on the bottom of my shed anymore!!!

With the perennials, there are a few things I probably wouldnÂt move until the weather is clearly warming for spring, like gaura, the golden and tri-color sages, and a few other things that are often considered to be somewhat marginal for zone 5. And, keep in mind, that you want to wait to move any spring blooming things until after theyÂve finished blooming. If you move them now, you may not get any flowers this year. And I do usually wait till I can identify the very first new growth before moving things. I think it makes it a lot easier to get the crown planted at the right depth. But most of my stuff already has identifiable new growth already this year!

So go for it, and having fun playing in the dirt  but not in the mud!

I only have garlic chives, so I canÂt compare them, but I noticed today there is a little bit of green at the base. I say itÂs too early to give up on the garlic chives! Once theyÂre established, they should pretty easily come back  but then, you are the one who had such a problem getting them started! ;-) But I say just wait for them!

Hope somebody can help you with the bush,
Skybird

    Bookmark   February 25, 2009 at 8:45PM
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dan_staley(5b/SS 2b AHS 6-7)

If you can take a handful of soil and squeeze it in your hand and it holds together, it is too early to work the soil. Dormant is better but if you treat them like babies you'll lose a few weeks of growth the first year that you transplant (the GF doesn't understand light requirements, so I move a lot of plants here)...

You have some interesting restrictions. You are somewhat limited, in that you have less than a half day of sun and so I'm just going to give you what I'd put in there if it were my house and those restrictions (not much): Pieris japonica 'Cavatine', 'Temple Bells' (I've put in many of 'Temple Bells' for clients, but on east exposures or northeast under trees, 'White Cascade' but you have to watch summer heat there, Euonymus fortunei (train up). Presuming it will get a few hours of sun, you may want to look at Rhamnus frangula, new cultivars that are very upright I have 'Ron Williams' in the yard here on the Front Range. Put up with the pinkish and try Viburnum carlesii for the scent...ahhh, the scent! I had one under a pine in California. If you can do a little extra work and afford the water, maybe a deciduous azalea: 'Mollis' or esp 'Northern Lights' but you need to water the latter. Where I practiced in Western WA we had a huge azalea bed and those were the show-stoppers. Those are the woodies I can think of that will work in that spot,

Dan

    Bookmark   February 25, 2009 at 9:36PM
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davies-cc(6a)

Daphne 'Carol Mackie' won't get 5' high, more like 3' to 4' high and wide, but I think it would be happy in your spot, with good drainage and fairly regular but not heavy watering. Very pretty shrub, semi-to-evergreen with very fragrant pink-to-white flowers in Spring. Google it!

    Bookmark   February 26, 2009 at 1:25PM
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highalttransplant(z 5 Western CO)

Hmmm... Dan I LOVE azaleas (I'm from the south), but I thought they had to have acidic soil. Plus the ones that I remember were more wide than tall. They sure are gorgeous when in bloom though. Especially under a dogwood tree, which I don't think grows here either : (

You know, I actually have a Viburnum trilobum 'Red Wing' on the west/northwest side of the house, that is not exactly thriving over there. Maybe I should move it to this spot, and find something else, maybe a Buddleia 'Honeycomb' for that drier, sunnier spot? What do you think?

Bonnie

    Bookmark   February 26, 2009 at 1:33PM
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highalttransplant(z 5 Western CO)

Hi Davies! Think we were posting at the same time : ) I looked up the Daphne, but it's too wide, and too pink, LOL. Heronswood lists it as 48" H and 72" W. There is a gate a few feet away from this spot, so I don't want anything that will make it difficult to get in and out of the backyard. There's also a pergola nearby, so something upright would just work better in this location.

Maybe I'll run out and take a picture or two.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2009 at 1:47PM
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highalttransplant(z 5 Western CO)

Well, here is a picture of the area. Looking at it, I can see that the pergola post will be more of an issue than the gate, which is further away than I realized. I will be planting grapevines next to the posts, so I have to allow some room for those.

I'd like to have a small corner bed with the shrub anchoring it, and maybe use this spot to grow perennials that I don't have enough shade to grow anywhere else on my mostly full sun property.

Thanks for your help!
Bonnie

    Bookmark   February 26, 2009 at 2:00PM
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dan_staley(5b/SS 2b AHS 6-7)

Hard to say with your soil, Bonnie, but you can do a raised bed for azalea and dig down & replace as you are digging for grapes anyway, I presume it is plumbed already for the turf, hopefully the valve isn't connected to other heads in the turf.

I'd do a kinnikinick as a groundcover, regardless. A Rhamnus frangula 'Fine Line' should do fine as a compliment for the pole, fine conversation piece. Keep it simple as you don't want to do too much right there, esp with grapes. Raised bed, replace soil, see if the will go, kinnikinick ground cover, 'Fine Line'. Raised bed behind some rocks, kinnikinick spilling over. Maybe a Tradescantia for texture. Few plants for effect.

Dan

    Bookmark   February 26, 2009 at 2:19PM
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davies-cc(6a)

highalttransplant: I had to check up on your claim that Heronswood states a 72" spread on Carol Mackie - I thought maybe you were high on something besides altitude ;-) I've never seen one approach that width. But anyhoo, when I look at your picture, it appears the top half of a shrub there is going to get pretty close to full high-altitude sun in the summer, so maybe your Viburnum is a better idea. I think there may also be one or two Mockoranges (Philadelphus) that stay pretty columnar as well as pink-free.

If the house is on the west, then I guess your photo faces south, which causes me to think that if I were you I might be trying to figure out a small tree to put in there for some more shade, which isn't what you asked for at all. Except you asked for free advice so that's what you get ;-) Good luck - it's almost time to start digging!

    Bookmark   March 2, 2009 at 4:44PM
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highalttransplant(z 5 Western CO)

Dan, I like your idea of edging that area with rocks, which would match what I did with an herb bed on the other side of the house. Not too crazy about the look of the Rhamnus though. I agree that spot needs to be kept simple because it is so small, and I don't want to take the focus off of the pergola.

Davies, after looking at a map, I've decided my house faces more southwest than south, but the porch blocks this corner from late afternoon sun. I am leaning toward moving the viburnum to this spot, and maybe pruning it in the shape of a small tree. I looked up the Mock Orange, and those are very nice too. If this doesn't work out, I might try that next. I'd rather not put a tree there, because my vegetable garden is on the other side of the fence. Besides, the pergola and grapevines should provide some shade for the patio.

I'll post some pictures once I get this area finished.

Thanks everyone for your advice!

Bonnie

    Bookmark   March 2, 2009 at 7:33PM
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highalttransplant(z 5 Western CO)

Skybird, I just realized I never responded to your post about moving the perennials. It was actually dry enough today, the dirt was "fluffable" as you described : ) I went ahead and moved a few things around. Only one of them wasn't showing any new growth yet. It was Echinacea 'Summer Sky', and none of mine ever show growth this early. They don't always survive me moving them either, but I'm convinced those newer hybrids aren't as hardy as the plain old Echinacea purpurea.

Did you get anything moved yet?

With the Garlic Chives, maybe I'll sow a few seeds, since I have a lot left from last year. If it decides to come back, I'll just find a home for the extras. It was one of my favorite herbs last year. It was prettier than I expected when it bloomed, and I used it for cooking too.

Bonnie

    Bookmark   March 2, 2009 at 8:42PM
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dan_staley(5b/SS 2b AHS 6-7)

Not too crazy about the look of the Rhamnus though.

Sniff...

Neither is the better half. Maybe its a guy thing.

I agree that the Carol Mackie doesn't get that big - they usu die before then. You are better off moving the Viburnum, as Philadelphus get big, even the 'Cherokee' types...

Post piccies!

Dan

    Bookmark   March 2, 2009 at 10:38PM
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Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado

Not a thing accomplished here, Bonnie! IÂve been working for the last 4 days. Spent last nite in PhillyÂin a snow storm! Just got back a couple hours ago. But itÂs kinda fun to sit in a hotel room and watch it snowÂwhen you know you donÂt have to shovel it! And we sure havenÂt had any good watchin snow storms out here this year!

I might try to get something done tomorrow. ItÂs supposed to be beautiful again! Just heard we broke a record todayÂ74 at the airportÂthat went back to 1901! And itÂs supposed to be in the 70's for the next 3 days. After tomorrow IÂm on reserve for 5 daysÂfingers crossed that I donÂt get used for Wednesday or Thursday! There are SO many things I want to move and/or divide that I donÂt have a clue where IÂm gonna start! And there are so many of those things that I want to pot up for the swapÂbut IÂm just not sure I want to do them quite this early and have to try to take care of them that long. IÂll figure it all out when I get out there!

I agree with your assessment of the new Echinaceas! From everything IÂve heard, they are definitely not as hardy as the old standbys! I hope yours make it. I know how much you like all the new varieties.

When my garlic chives bloomed the first time a couple years ago, I was really impressed with how pretty they were too. I rarely use them when cooking, but I do look forward to their blooming. And the seedheads would be nice for dried arrangements too! I saved some the first year.

Skybird

    Bookmark   March 3, 2009 at 12:47AM
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dan_staley(5b/SS 2b AHS 6-7)

OK, one last suggestion for a decent shrub, based on the information above:

Ribes odoratum 'Crandall'

:o)

Dan

    Bookmark   March 3, 2009 at 3:16PM
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highalttransplant(z 5 Western CO)

Ooooh, Dan, that sounds just perfect! I LOVE three season shrubs, the blooms are yellow, and edible berries too. It doesn't get much better than that in my book!!!

The only problem now is where to put the Viburnum, LOL. Right now it is in a spot that gets a lot of wind, late afternoon sun, and not much water. It's alive, but not much bigger than when I planted it. I thought it would be happier in this spot that is shadier, more protected, and has more moisture available. I don't have another spot like that on my property though. Hmmmm ...

Bonnie

    Bookmark   March 3, 2009 at 4:23PM
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dan_staley(5b/SS 2b AHS 6-7)

I couldn't get approval for that shrub, so I'm living vicariously through you Bonnie! And I can't get approval for Viburnums either, so I'm no help there...

Dan

    Bookmark   March 3, 2009 at 5:02PM
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highalttransplant(z 5 Western CO)

Are we talking about approval from your better half? Or an HOA or something : ^ ) When we lived in Castle Rock the HOA guidelines actually had a list of recommended trees, plants, and shrubs, and another list of ones that were prohibited. The neighborhood consisted of many shades of beige ...

Bonnie

    Bookmark   March 3, 2009 at 5:26PM
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dan_staley(5b/SS 2b AHS 6-7)

Better half. I used to practice in Castle Rock, and boy I know how it works down there, their soon-to-be-approved landscaping regs update is mostly mine, what an ordeal! Good news is they may actually have front yards soon with something other than bluegrass and two shrubs. Our HOA here lets me do generally what I want, as I consult for them occasionally and have repeatedly asked me to be on the board (stopped asking?).

Dan

    Bookmark   March 3, 2009 at 6:09PM
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highalttransplant(z 5 Western CO)

Well, here is what I ended up with. It's not as raised as I had meant it to be, but it's DONE! I even used a nail gun for the first time, to staple the edging to the fence. The tiny shrub (that would be the stick-looking thing in the middle) is the Viburnum trilobum 'Red Wing', and the three plants in the front are various Heucheras.

Bonnie

    Bookmark   March 21, 2009 at 2:17PM
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highalttransplant(z 5 Western CO)

Just a quick update on this area. Everything started to leaf out, and then all of the leaves on everything died! Couldn't see any insect damage, it's an area protected from wind, so I have absolutely no idea what the problem is. The Heuchera in the middle is completely dead now, but the other two are started to show new growth again. Can't tell if the Viburnum will try to put out another set of leaves, or just give up at this point.

Anyway, I just saw a picture of a shrub that I thought might work well in this spot, but since no one suggested it before, not sure if it grows well here or not. It's Sambucus racemosa 'Sutherland Gold'. Any thoughts on this one?

Bonnie

Here is a link that might be useful: Sambucus racemosa 'Sutherland Gold'

    Bookmark   May 30, 2009 at 3:45PM
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