Is There Such a Tree/Shrub?

aloha2009June 17, 2012

Our patio design is FINALLY completed (but not installed). I'm very excited about the great planting areas I will have. It's so much more fun to dream of plants then the hardscaping that we've desperately needed.

We'll have an area about 10' x 12' wide perfect for a small tree or large shrub. We were hoping to utilize it for shade for one of the patios just East of this planting area. High visibility in the summer with none/very little in the winter.

Size requirements are dictated by the deck 8' away but the other sides are completely open (so we can trim some). We have a personal requirement of having the planting 15' or less in height do to a view we don't want to block.

Sun requirements... Since it's on the North side, the snow often lingers. The area is far enough out though from the house that at the summer solstice the shade misses the planting point by 4' leaving the area in the summer sun all day...yes I've studied my yard well.

Xeric is always nice but being the very limited selection I think I'm going to find I have and the high visibility, we're willing to treat it well.

I've been reading and reading but there seems something that makes certain plants not quite right - or at least I'm thinking they won't.

Does anyone have or know of something that would work, or we could make work with SOME extra effort.

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aloha2009

Please tell me if I found my answer.

Though I posted the question, I felt I should continue to try and find something.

I came across the Blackhaw Viburnum. Since many sites seem to contradict each other, I was trying to find a consistency with this plant. Most sites seem to say the same thing.

It likes alkaline soil more then acid (very different for a Viburnum), drought tolerant, sun or shade, good fall color, nice flower display and for myself the right size 13.5 x 10' (average). It was difficult to find pictures of the form (most up close), but the ones I found seemed at least acceptable.

Does anyone know about this viburnum to know if this is likely to work? With it such a high profile area, I'm not as willing to just try it and see as I might be in another place. I may not have a choice though ultimately.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2012 at 12:53PM
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polygonum_tinctorium

How about a Japanese maple? It will like the protected spot. They are iffy here. But they are pretty during the growing season and fairly inconspicuous during the winter. It does have maple flowers in the spring, followed by the winged seeds (samaras). The leaves are beautiful from start to end. Most have nice fall color. Most don't grow very tall. They can take full sun but are happier with a bit less than that, especially less afternoon sun.

I have a fern-leaf full-moon maple (Acer japonicum Acontifolium), which is supposedly a bit more cold hardy than the traditional Japanese maples (Acer palmatum). You can find them at local nurseries.

I don't know how many years my little maple will survive. But I will enjoy it for as long as it does!

Another possibility might be a variegated red-twig dogwood. I see a lot of them in my neighborhood. I think they look interesting with their variegated leaves and the red twigs of winter. I don't know what the fall color is like, but at least one website refers to its dramatic fall foliage. It does fine with partial to full sun.

Neither is fully xeric, but will do well with average watering.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2012 at 4:20PM
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aloha2009

Sorry I gave the impression that this is a protected area. Yes it's protected next to the deck, but it's not protected at all on the other 3 sides.

I'd LOVE to have a Japanese Maple but I've read enough in this forum to just hang up the towel on that one. LOTS of extra work and the tree just is pretty lackluster here. Definitely not for this area. Where did you get your maple. I checked the Tree Farm (huge selection) and they don't have it. Sounds like it might be almost as sensitive as the Japanese. Once this plant is in, I want it forever since it will actually be more functional then beautiful - but why not get both.

I've had the dogwoods before but I don't think any of them are large enough for what I need.

We don't want it any higher then 15' but not any lower then 12'.

I've been looking at just a common lilac and pruning it. I realize the flowers are unreliable year to year because of the frosts but again we're using it mostly for the shade.

I didn't read anything on pruning one of these into a tree. Has anyone seen one like that, or are they a nightmare because of all the offshoots and suckering?

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 9:47AM
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polygonum_tinctorium

I got my maple at Tagawa's during a late-season sale.

Mine is on the north side of my house, not too far from the house.

I have a friend with a lilac pruned like a tree. It looks great. I think she prunes the offshoots once a year or so, and shapes the top once every few years. Some lilacs are more prone to suckering than others.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 10:38AM
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aloha2009

Poly it's good to know that a lilac can be pruned nicely into a tree. It would be the perfect size that I need and smell heavenly.

I found another possible option too...Heptacodium miconioides aka Seven-son flower. It almost sounds too good to be true. I've read a lot of comments are Gardenweb forums and they are very positive. They refer to it as the Northern Crepe Myrtle. Though I frequent the Denver Botanical Gardens, there are supposedly 2 there. I'm going to have to ask specifically for them.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 1:26PM
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almondstriations

A couple that come to mind are Yellowhorn Tree (Xanthoceras sorbifolium) and Serviceberry (Amelanchier). The Serviceberries come in different shapes and sizes depending on the cultivar, and the Yellowhorn supposedly tops out around 12' at maturity. Mine is only a tiny baby, but already flowers beautifully and has beautiful foliage. There are also many Viburnum that could be pruned to tree shape. I'm not familiar with the Blackhaw, but I've seen Allegany in tree form and think it's really attractive. Glad to hear you have your hardscape plan in place!

    Bookmark   June 21, 2012 at 2:48AM
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aloha2009

Almond, I hope you notice this as I missed your suggestions.

I already have a Serviceberry planted.

The Yellowhorn Tree looks beautiful but I couldn't find anywhere to purchase it online. Where did you get yours? When does it leaf out? Fall color? Fragrant? I love the pics I see.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2012 at 10:23PM
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aloha2009

So we made our way back to the Botanical gardens and were not impressed with the Seven Son's at all. Though it can be pruned to a tree, it looks like a very scraggly bush.

I've read some more that the bloom doesn't come till late in the season. Then afterwards the red things (I forget the name) fade away after a frost. Considering how early some frosts come, I don't think I wouldn't be happy missing the "show" some years.

I'm hoping to hear more about the Yellowhorn. The Blackhaw Viburnum is back on the table.

The good news is the HOA approved us having a small tree!

    Bookmark   July 16, 2012 at 6:02PM
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