tree or shrub for difficult spot

charmedApril 3, 2007

Hello all. I'm very slowly (excruciatingly slowly -- skills and funds in short supply!) turning my small urban backyard into a woodland garden. It started out as ugly lawn with a Norway Maple and now it's got a serviceberry and some wild columbine growing nicely, plus a forsythia (I know it's not native -- but my neighbor dug hers up and it would otherwise have been discarded)and plans for a crabapple. Anyway, I have a spot, about 8' by 10' between the garage and shed that gets bright direct afternoon sun for 2-3 hours a day and is otherwise in shadow. I foolishly planted some hollyhocks against the shed and they do bloom but are very scraggly. I'd appreciate some ideas for something to plant in this spot. I'm afraid to plant anything that loves shade since it does get that short period of intense sun, but it doesn't seem like sun lovers will thrive there either. It's also not really 'partial shade' so much as full shade most of the time. Any ideas? Thanks!

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ladyslppr(z6 PA)

First, practically all shrubs will tolerate full sun, unless you live somewhere really hot, such as the deserts of AZ. If you had a Norway Maple I assume you're in a humid, cooler climate where all shrubs can tolerate full sun. When shrubs are listed as shade lovers they are really shade tolerant - they'll tolerate shade but usually grow better with more sun.

There are lots of great native shrubs that you could try. I think a viburnum would be a nice choice - perhaps Viburnum dentatum - Northern arrowwood, or Cranberry Viburnum - Viburnum trilobum. These have spring flowers and late summer berries and are not thorny. BOth are rather upright in stature so they won't sprawl all over the place and you'll still have room to walk around between the buildings.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2007 at 12:05PM
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knottyceltic(S/W Ontario 5b)

My fave shrub or small tree depending on whether you buy shrub-form or tree-form is the Serviceberry. It's a wonderful shrub/tree as it has year round interest and is a favourite of the birds, bees and butterflies. It has great white flowers in spring, red berries in summer that change to blue and then blue-black and when ripe, the birds go crazy for these berries. They are edible for people too but I dare any gardener to try to get to the berries before the birds do ;o) Best of all is the autumn display this shrub/tree puts on. It turns NEON ORANGE in autumn and is such a favourite of mine that i've planted 6 of them around my property and plant to put one more (treeform this time) back in my woods. You just can't go wrong with this shrub/tree because it loves sun AND full shade plus all the perks that I mentioned above and the birds love it in winter because it has a nice growth habit it is also a favourite for perching birds.

southern Ontario, CANADA

    Bookmark   April 4, 2007 at 12:40PM
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joepyeweed(5b IL)

Look at the vibernums. Vibernum rafinesquianum is a beauty both in spring and in fall and would probably perform well there. Viburnum prunifolium is much larger and farily tolerant of a wide range of conditions.

Another choice would be some hydrangeas. Hydrangeas like shade but will tolerate some sun. They tend to need moisture, not sure what your soil is like. Even so, they will let you know when they need a drink.

Another possibility might be lonicera prolifera. I haven't grown this one myself, it likes shade, but needs a bit of sun too.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2007 at 2:29PM
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Thanks y'all! I have a Serviceberry (A. laevis) in another part of the yard -- not sure whether I'll go with another one or with a viburnum for this particular spot, but I'm definitely going to look into putting viburnum somewhere -- my practically bare yard is a long old way from 'woodland' so I have lots of space to work with! I'm glad to know that the little bit of full sun will be okay with most part-shade shrubs -- that was the one thing stopping me from putting anything in that space.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2007 at 4:30PM
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knottyceltic(S/W Ontario 5b)

Personally I'm very frustrated with viburnums right now. I have a large selection of viburnums and every one of them is infested with viburnum beetle. This beetle can strip the shub within days and after repeated strippings the shrub dies. I battled them last year and throughout the winter but the lifecycle is such that you are battling constantly. The adult gnaws holes along the tips of branches and lays eggs into the holes. Then it mixes a mulch of dung and the green wood into a paste and fills over the egg holes on the branch. In spring the larvae hatch and are voracious eaters of the leaves. The larvae are even more descructive than the adults. Once they've had their fill they go down the shrub to the ground and enter the next phase of the lifecycle underground. Then in summer they emerge as adults, eat the leaves again and then start the whole cycle over again with laying eggs at the branch ends. I treated the leaves last summer and fall and over the fall, winter and spring (now) I have pruned away as much of the seed holes holding the next batch of eggs/larvae. You have to destroy the clippings though...don't compost them either at your home or in a city compost or they will just be spread.

Aside from the variety of dogwoods I have, viburnums are my next most abundant shrub and keeping up with this beetle and it's larvae has been more than I care to have to deal with. It's very upsetting at times. :o/

southern Ontario, CANADA

    Bookmark   April 8, 2007 at 3:38PM
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joepyeweed(5b IL)

Barb, have you tried doing a spring treatment of dormant oil on your virburnums. A dormant oil treatment is pretty earth friendly and commonly used on alot of fruit trees. Not sure how effective it would be specifically for viburnum beetle.

Its just about too late for a dormant oil spray where I live, but up in Canada, you may still have some time?

Here is a link that might be useful: dormant oil spray

    Bookmark   April 9, 2007 at 12:18PM
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kwoods(Cold z7 Long Is)

Native azaleas might do well there. Just keep them well watered in summer.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2007 at 12:45PM
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spice bush (linderon benzoin -- check the spelling) would be nice for your area or some type of an azalea/rhodadendron.
or kalmias or keria japonica
or a hydrangia of some type

    Bookmark   April 19, 2007 at 11:12AM
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