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the perfect tree?

Posted by nohandle 6a (My Page) on
Wed, Feb 15, 06 at 10:52

I probably could have posted this in other forums, but I follow this one closely and I just know many of you will be able to help me. I'll try to make this as short and to-the-point as possible...
I just got myself a new backyard (and a house of course) and I'm pretty much starting from scratch. It's on the small side, about 60' x 60'.
In the back corner there is an existing Balsam Fir, approx. 12' high with an 8' spread. This tree is not going anywhere as it blocks the neighbour's view of my yard from their kitchen, deck etc.
There is a mature maple towards the back centre of the yard, about 20 feet away from the fir. The maple has about a 2' diameter trunk (I think it's a silver maple) and thus is quite tall (maybe 60').
On the other side of the fir, to the southwest in my neighbour's yard, there is a mature oak (white?). It is about the same size and spread as the maple. The two large trees are about 40' or 50' apart and their main branches start at about 30' off the ground.
What I'm looking for is the perfect tree to put in between all this. I have marked a location about halfway between the fir and the maple and about 8' - 10' away from the back fence. My backyard is on the west side of my house (my front door faces east), so the oak will block most of the afternoon sun. I understand that I should be looking for an understorey tree, but I also have a few other stipulations.

1) This tree will pretty much be the focal point of my yard as seen from inside the house, so it must have four season interest (form, fruit, flowers, bark etc.)
2) It must attract birds
3) It must be native to Southern Ontario
4) For the sanity of future owners, it must have a limited height (max 30') and spread (15' - 20'). I can't stand it when I see someone plant a tree in the wrong spot (like my brother who planted a paperbirch two feet away from the back of his house...what an idiot!!!..but that's a different story).

So far, I am seriously considering a Flowering Dogwood.
What do you think?...good choice?...or can someone recommend something better?

Thanks for reading this and helping me find this panacea of trees.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: the perfect tree?

I think dogwoods are supposed to be understory trees actually, but a lot of people use them as specimens. I may be wrong about this, but if the location is not somewhat sheltered, I think you may have trouble getting a dogwood to last that far north. You might want to check. I find that they say pink dogwood can make it here in zone 5/6, but that is pushing it. I have seen a few in sheltered locations (understory in-town locations that are sheltered from wind), but not here out in the windy part of town. I am even thinking that the regular white C. florida sometimes doesn't do well here. I am just going on what I have seen. I am no expert. I have no suggestions for you though. I happen to have a pagoda dogwood that is doing well out in the windy part of my yard, so who knows?

RE: the perfect tree?

Well, C. florida is listed as a native species to this area (as are a number of other dogwood sp.), but I'm just going from the literature, I have no practical experience with them. However, considering I'm southwest of the snowbelt and the location IS fairly sheltered by suburbia, I'm thinking that the elements shouldn't be a problem.
But as I mentioned previously, I just want to make sure it's the right tree for the right reasons.
I don't want to look back and say, "if only I planted a...."

RE: the perfect tree?

Mountain Ash - they have fall color, have berries birds like to eat. I love their color..

RE: the perfect tree?

Nohandle: Exactly what I mean!! They sell them here too (the pink and the white), but I have seen people lose the pink and when I talked to a nursery, they told me that they are not hardy enough except in a sheltered location.

I do not have a sheltered location. I just buy small trees and then the investment isn't ridiculous. You do have to have patience though. I planted the pagoda a couple of years ago. I got a few in a package of dogwoods. One has done really well and that is the one that is more out in the open. I think they do like some shade from afternoon sun. I have also read they like moist, rich soil. That sounds like an understory tree to me.

RE: the perfect tree?

vonyon...thanks for the warning.

Where exactly are you located? I just want to be able to compare our growing conditions (esp. winter).

RE: the perfect tree?

I'm in Northeastern Massachusetts about 10 miles from the coast.

RE: the perfect tree?


Im not sure if its an issue where you are, but Ive lost 3 of the 4 flowering dogwoods that came with the house to a disease called dogwood anthracnose. I think the 4th tree has a good chance of surviving because it gets less shade than the others did. It sounds like youre pursuing vonyons suggestion of pagoda dogwood, but wanted to warn you just in case.


RE: the perfect tree?

You might consider Serviceberry (Amelanchier). It gets white to pink flowers in spring followed by berries in summer(loved by birds)and many cultivars turn red in fall. It can be grown as a broad multistemmed shrub or trained to a single trunk if you prefer. It grows 15-25ft tall in full sun to part shade. It is also native to North America.
Just a thought.

RE: the perfect tree?

Ok, after doing a little research, Serviceberry is definitely an option...very nice tree...shrub...whatever it is. Thanks for the suggestion.
However, if I also added the criteria that I would like the tree/shrub in question to provide a little privacy from the neighbour's yard, would any of the three (the two dogwoods or the Serviceberry) be a better choice? I guess one would have to take growth rate into consideration too.
Any comments?

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