Ornamental Trees

garden_gazer(z5WI)April 19, 2008

Hi everyone,

I am new to the Wisconsin forum. Happy to see so many WI folks looking forward to spring!

I need some help!

I have a fairly large sun garden in my back yard and the tree that I had as the focal point is not doing well. I want to plant a new tree in the center of the garden, but it can't get too big or throw too much shade. I would like the tree to flower, but it is not an absolute criteria. Any ideas for me?

I have a Redbud, weeping cherry, Tina crab apple and Lilac tre in the yard already.

Thanks in advance for any suggestions you may have.

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Ornamental trees are great because you get that once a year flower show. The problem is that a lot of these ornamentals are actually a fruiting tree. I just took out 3 crab apple trees last year from my back yard. I just didn't think the flower show was worth picking up all of those apples. I also have a couple of cherry trees that drive me nuts because the cherries take seed in my flower beds. These also seem to be prone to send up suckers.

Sorry for venting, but if I can save 1 person any frustration...

I would recommend a magnolia tree. These come in numerous different varieties. I have been told that the "star" shaped flower varieties have a decent record for overwintering. We have a magnolia in the backyard that we planted several years ago and it does great. My Dad has the biggest magnolia tree I've ever seen in this state in his back yard. I would not classify these as a tree that provides much shade; even at the size my Dad has. They look great in bloom and they do not bear fruit. If cost is an issue these get much cheaper in Sept/ Oct.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   April 21, 2008 at 6:38AM
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I thought of a couple non-flowering, but interesting trees to consider:

Japanese Maple: I have seen some pretty awesome hybrid mini Japanese maples. I think most of the regular varieties sit at around 8-9 feet tall. We just put in a weeping Japanese maple late last fall. It looks like it made it through the winter!

Harry Lauders Walking Stick: Most of the ones I have seen in this zone are pretty light on leaves which means they will not provide much shade. This is one of those unusual things that people either hate or love, but I think everyone can agree that they're unusual. No flowers, but it does have catkins in late winter/ early spring. This is on my list of trees to add (when I can.)

I hope you find what you're looking for!

Here is a link that might be useful: walking stick (winter? no leaves at all!)

    Bookmark   April 21, 2008 at 1:23PM
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If you want something that stays quite small, then check out the rose tree that Jungs has called Polar Joy. It is supposed to be hardy here and flower most of the summer. I don't have one, but I've heard good things about them and I might get one eventually. I love the look of Japanese maples but most of them aren't very hardy here, and they're so expensive that I hate to take a chance. What kind did you get superdavefive? And where did you get it?

    Bookmark   April 21, 2008 at 4:04PM
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tsugajunkie z5 SE WI

Although listed for part shade, I have a Cornus kousa in full sun. It casts a dappled shade. Nice flowers (bracts) that last almost 2 months and berries (look like raspberries) that the birds eat so there is no mess. Mature size of 10x10' or 15x15'. Fall color is a wine red.


    Bookmark   April 21, 2008 at 9:22PM
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Bob_Zn5(Z5 WI)

I have a magnolia stellata (star magnolia) & am not impressed with it. The flowers do not have enough structure to look good from a distance (across the yard)& the tree has nothing but the flowers to recommend it. Perhaps if it were closer to a traffic pattern where you would see the flowers up close & could appreciate the scent, then it might be appropriate but from a distance the flowers look like wet toilet paper on a stick to me.
Girards Nursery (mailorder) has paperbark maples at very reasonable prices. Thats the small tree that trips my trigger this year. Of course, I thought the magnolia was a great idea a few years ago.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2008 at 9:37PM
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Thanks for all the good suggestions. It is always good to hear what works and doesn't work in other people's gardens. I like the star magnolia up close when we walk around the neighborhood, but I agree, that from a distance they look kid of scraggly. Also after a rain the flowers kind of melt away. I may look into crabapples with minimal fruit. I know that the birds often take care of the small fruit in the spring. The newer varieties are also disease resistent. Wasn't the weather grest this past weekend? We spent Saturday and Sunday getting the leaves out of the gardens and putting the patio back together.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2008 at 7:34AM
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pondwelr(z5 WI)

Serviceberry. I have 3 of the tree-type and two of the bush type. I think the tree is Amelancier "brilliance" (or close to that.) Mine have multitrunks and tops out at about 8 or 9 feet, so far. It is the earliest bloomer, and such a welcome sight. Makes delicious berries that birds crave too. does not make dense shade, nor does it push roots all over the top soil.

I also like the narrow, upright junipers, like "pencil".
They can look sort of stark tho, unless you have a large shrub or two or tall grasses with it.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2008 at 1:57PM
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Bob_Zn5(Z5 WI)

Serviceberry grows & blooms in shade also. It is an understory tree in the wild. The birds go nuts over the fruit. It is supposed to be edible but the birds get ours before it is ripe.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2008 at 9:54PM
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I want to thank all of your for your great suggestions. This weekend I think I will head out to the nurseries and check out all the offerings. I want to get the tree into the ground soon to get the best growth for the year.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2008 at 8:14AM
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