Are there any dwarf trees for front foundation plantings?

tiamaria(5 NJ)May 6, 2007


I have been trying to find a shrub or miniature tree for the focal point of my front foundation of my house. My beds are deep but not very wide. (14'w x 18'd)

The house is a colonial with a center stone section and a columned porch. The house has two very large bay windows flanking left and right of the front porch and I thought I would love a Hydrangea tree centered on those windows and work the other plants around that. The Hydrangea won't look very nice in winter.

Does anyone know of a dwarf flowering tree I could use in this design? I have the depth in the bed to support a small tree. Of course I can always use a Rhodadendron

or Azalea.

Does this idea of planting a dominant plant in the center of the bays sound too boring? I love when I can see something flowering through my windows.

Would love to hear some suggestions.

Thanks from NJ


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mjsee(Zone 7b, NC)

They don't flower, per se, but there are a host of Japanese Maples that stay under 10 feet--and some stay shorter. Much depends on your sun situation...

They, too, will be leafless in the winter, but the weeping forms look nice nekkid, and the upright forms are almost as interesting and look great with little white lights in their branches at night.

Some names to google:

Acer dissectum 'Crimson Queen'
Acer dissectum 'Viridis'
Acer dissectum 'Tamukeyama'
Acer dissectum 'Waterfall'
Acer palmatum 'Shaina'
Acer japonicum 'Aconitifolium'

Have fun.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2007 at 10:23AM
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tiamaria(5 NJ)

Thanks MJ, I will check into those. I did consider them at one time but was hoping I could find something that flowers. It may not exist.

Best wishes

    Bookmark   May 6, 2007 at 12:00PM
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treelover(z8b SoCtrlTX)

You might get some suggestions if you post your question on the NJ gardening forum. Or you could contact a master gardener in your area--link below.

I know what you mean about looking out a window and seeing something flowering. Not sure I'd center the tree in front of the windows, though...maybe to one side would look better.

Here is a link that might be useful: NJ master gardeners

    Bookmark   May 6, 2007 at 12:16PM
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Maybe some of the newer cultivars of dwarf flowering crabapple trees that are highly disease resistant might be of interest to you. You have spring flowers and seasonal berries throughout the fall and winter. Viburnums may also work well.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2007 at 11:00PM
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Brent_In_NoVA(z7/6 VA)

I have two Acer dissectum 'Crimson Queen' trees in my front yard. They have been a much stronger focal point in my front yard than anything that has flowered. Lucky for me they were planted several years ago by the previous home owner because moderate size Japanese Maples are $$$.

- Brent

    Bookmark   May 6, 2007 at 11:16PM
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sargent tina crab
star magnolia
snowfountain cherry
purple fountain weeping beech

    Bookmark   May 7, 2007 at 7:09AM
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saypoint(6b CT)

Many shrubs lend themselves to pruning into a tree form.

Keep in mind that a tree or shrub planted some distance away from the house may be easier to see than one that is directly under the window. Off to one side, so you don't block the light/views, but a photo would help.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2007 at 8:17AM
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tiamaria(5 NJ)

Thank you for the links for various resources.
I haven't had time yet but plan to check them out. Rutgers is in my area and it would be interesting what they might suggest.

PAPJ: Viburnum would be nice. I wonder if they prune them into tree like forms.

I appreciate the comment about blocking light in front of the window. I put these windows in so I would have light in the rooms! I will have to be very careful but the depth of the bed (18ft) is helpful.

I will let you know what I find out and see what your thoughts are hopefully soon.

Thanks for the suggestions, I will check them out.


    Bookmark   May 7, 2007 at 9:01AM
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Many viburnums are considered a large shrub or a small tree.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2007 at 3:11PM
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mjsee(Zone 7b, NC) about a Viburnum trilobum? They take awhile to get to their full height...

And it would work in your zone!

Here is a link that might be useful: Viburnum trilobum page

    Bookmark   May 7, 2007 at 6:46PM
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mjsee(Zone 7b, NC)

Or a Viburnum dilatatum 'Cardinal Candy'...

Here is a link that might be useful: Cardinal Candy info

    Bookmark   May 7, 2007 at 6:49PM
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tiamaria(5 NJ)

Thanks again.

I love the Cardinal Candy Vibernum.

Do the deer like the berries on these shrubs?


    Bookmark   May 8, 2007 at 9:12AM
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At our last house, I centered a pagoda dogwood in front of our living room window. The form was gorgeous in the winter, and the birds loved the berries. It flowered too, but that was actually the least of its charms. I had a flowering crab at the far corner of the house as well, but that was lovely for only about 15 days in spring. We much preferred the dogwood!

This isn't my photo, but it's a good one to show the branching habit:

    Bookmark   May 8, 2007 at 9:52AM
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tiamaria(5 NJ)


That's lovely. Love the shape.

I would need a background plant. I'm thinking a dark leaf
low holly. Then something around the dogwood. A perennial or blue star junipers. I can't have hostas because the deer eat them. I could even put a dwarf azalea around the dogwood. The very low growing type that are late bloomers.

The viburnum is nice too but I think I have to be careful with the species. It will tend to take over and it will be difficult to select co-ordinating shrubs. At least my creative juices aren't as readily available in thinking of what to put with the viburnum.

At any rate I could flank the steps with the viburnum or put in in the corner. It will go somewhere because viburnum are favorites of mine.

Thanks for the photo.


    Bookmark   May 9, 2007 at 8:38AM
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lpinkmountain(5b/6a border PA)

I'm going out of the box here and suggesting a tree shrub called "Harry Lauder's Walking Stick." It's also called "Corkscrew Hazel" and is in the hazelnut family. It's almost impossible to describe but it has a lovely weeping form with contorted branches, it is very sculptural. Google it to see pictures, and check out a few since not all photographers do it justice. I worked at a place that had one planed as a central specimen. It has yellow pendant flowers in the early spring, which are stunning, and it looks great in the winter due to it's twisting and turning branches. It is not quite as stunning in the middle of the summer although it still have a lovely form and lovely leaves then. There's no such thing as a perfect four season tree, but this one has two great ones, spring and winter.

To me, a north country girl, the real test of a plant in my garden is do I love it in the winter, lol! The crabs are nice in late fall but not much in the winter. I agree that dogwood comes close to being a true four season wonder. Some of the japanese maples with interesting bark qualify too in my book. I think the weeping cherries look goofy in the winter, but some people like them and I could see the arguement in favor of them if you like the look.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2007 at 12:31PM
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Viburnum prunifolium takes on a lovely small tree form. Malus sargentii would also work.

Here is a link that might be useful: Sargent Crabapple

    Bookmark   May 11, 2007 at 12:34PM
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