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Demise of shade garden tree

Posted by kkay_md z7 MD (My Page) on
Tue, May 8, 07 at 14:03

Today I walked outside to inspect my shade garden, only to suddenly realize with shock that the faithful dogwood that has provided shade there for the last 12 years is in serious decline. I estimate that it has lost 75% of its canopy, and the plants under it are no longer in lovely dappled shade, but nearly full sun.

I need to replace this tree, pronto! I had thought about getting a fringe tree, but to my chagrin, I see that they grow very slowly. The space is not large (12 x 15), and is rather close to the house. It gets sun most of the day (I didn't plant the original dogwood, which would probably have preferred a more sheltered spot). The soil is decent, and it is on a slight slope.

I have a crabapple tree in an adjacent, lower garden; maybe I should get another? Any other ideas for a small tree that has a fairly full canopy?

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Demise of shade garden tree

If there's any shade at all above it, a Redwood 'Forest Pansy' is a gorgeous choice.

I feel your pain and panic.
I made a huge shade garden, then the very next year, the tree died. Up came a quick pergola, which I still need to cover for shade.

With the last wind storm? 1/2 a cherry and an entire maple were peeled like a banana, so up is going another pergola. Kill me.

Hey! A crape myrtle grows up to 3' a year, and if you got an upright or a vase shaped tree, you could have some beautiful color.


RE: Demise of shade garden tree

A birch tree did this to me and I replaced it with a shade cloth and a 'Jane' magnolia. Any of the 'Little Girl' series might work. Don't know how big the yellow ones like 'Elizabeth' get, but they're lovely.

An amelanchier might be a good choice but its shade would be relatively open, I think. Same with any redbud.

What about styrax or parrotia?

Also exceedingly beautiful, but not fast, would be cornus controversa 'Variegata'. Look it up. I saw a photo years ago on the GW in the garden of a guy in Brittany and was completely besotted. I'll be dead before mine reaches maturity, but I'm prepared to wait.

Here is a link that might be useful: At Heronswood

RE: Demise of shade garden tree

I think you mean Redbud Forest Pansy. A redwood might get a bit large for that space. Not sure I'd want to plant a tree with a name like pansy, though. Forest Pansy sounds like one of the Keebler elves.


RE: Demise of shade garden tree

  • Posted by suja z7 noVA (My Page) on
    Tue, May 8, 07 at 15:50

Leslie, that's a gorgeous tree. If I didn't think that DH would kill me....

A Japanese Maple will do nicely in that space, but they're not exactly known for being fast growers. Not to mention, there'd be some pretty special challenges to growing anything under one. An Amur maple may work. The only other thing I can think of that hasn't already been suggested is a Stewartia. They have multi-season interest, and can be nice small trees.

RE: Demise of shade garden tree

Thanks, everyone, for your advice and commiseration. I've made a list of these suggestions, will do some research, and visit my local garden center. Meanwhile, I'll put up some shade fabric, and try to calm down. I haven't had a garden shock like this in some time.

I have a beautiful Japanese maple (now about 8 ft) that I have grown from a seedling. It does grow slowly, but such a gorgeous tree. It's way the heck on the other side of the garden, though, and since I just transplanted it a couple of seasons ago after carefully root-pruning and coddling it, I don't want to move it again.

Thanks again!


RE: Demise of shade garden tree

I have a Forest Pansy by my front door. Maroon leaves, lovely open form.

Consider a viburnum? My Shasta doublefile has grown two feet in the last two years; mine is shrubby, but could easily be pruned up into a tree-shape. Blooms now, and gorgeous red fall color. Nice contrast with the FP.

Gingko Gardens on 11th st in DC has some nice stewartias, both pseudocammelia and a related Chinese species, rostrata, with bigger blossoms/seedpods but without the mottled bark that is one of the delights of the pseudocammellia -- go to Brookside Gdns in Wheaton to see mature trees of THAT.


RE: Demise of shade garden tree

What are your expectations on tree size and cost? It seems to me that it would cost several hundred dollars to get a tree in there that will cast a reasonably amount of shade in the next year or two...especially the equivalent of a 12+ year old dogwood. If the dogwood was never planted there, do you think you would want to plant a tree in that location? Maybe you could find a home for your shade plants and try something different in this location.

BTW, I was looking at some garden pictures and I was amazed at the growth that my 'Sioux' Crape Myrtle over a few years.

- Brent

RE: Demise of shade garden tree

Yes, Redbud it was.
I like mine a heck of a lot, but I had to have the pergola. My trouble is affording something to hang on the pergola to block the sideways sun.



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