Small tree for close-in view

heckaboreMay 7, 2012

My ranch house in in a modified U shape with a small planting area (5' x 5' approx) in the crotch of the U. The house is stucco and the planting area is surrounded by patio, so the area is protected and warm. There are French doors that look out onto the patio from all three sides and narrow planting areas lining the perimeter of the rest of the interior of the U. The climate here is hot and dry in the summer, and generally we get a few frosts in the winter, but never too cold for too long. The house shades the planting area much of the day. I'm looking for a small tree to plant in the 5x5 area. Of course, when the tree grows up over the top of the eaves, it will be in full sun, but down below there's a lot of shade, so I'm really in a quandary as to what to plant. A few trees I'm considering or have been suggested are Malus Prairiefire--or other malus, not sure which (maybe too much shade), cornus alba elegantissima (maybe too much sun), cercis canadiansis (don't know much about this one), or maybe even a tree form of ceanothus (had this idea just now). Any suggestions or other trees to consider? Nearby plants include Cecille Brunner roses, lamb's ears, variegated abelia, festival grass, jack spratt phormiums, gazania. Also, groundcover ceanothus on a nearby slope.

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bahia(SF Bay Area)

You probably should decide whether you prefer an evergreen or deciduous tree, what mature size is desired, and other characteristics such as fragrance or seasonal flowers, etc._

I might suggest a flowering deciduous tree with an upright narrow form would give you winter sun and summer shade. Crape Myrtles are useful for such a spot. If you were looking for foliage interest at several seasons, a Japanese Maple such as Bloodgood or a Chinese Tallow tree/ Sapium sebiferum might work.

If you preferred an evergreen, a smaller citrus such as a Mandarin or Tangerine or maybe a taller narrow fragrant tree such as Hymenosporum flavum or Acacia cognata.

You might also consider a spring blooming Magnolia such as Black Tulip orMagnolia stellata.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2012 at 6:01PM
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Thanks, Bahia! I've also considered Magnolia stellata--I've seen a few of them in my neighborhood and I think they are beautiful.

I'd love to find a tree that flowers and has fall color, so I'm happy with a deciduous tree. I don't think I want a tree that is much more than 20-25 feet tall, and not quite as wide as it is tall. It would be nice to have a little more shade on the patio in the summer.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2012 at 6:43PM
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You're in Zone 9! Surrounded by the house on three sides, I'd do something quite tropical!

    Bookmark   May 7, 2012 at 8:57PM
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bahia(SF Bay Area)

A Sunset zone 15 isn't as conducive to tender tropicals as a zone 16/17, but the Hymenosporum does look a bit tropical and has wonderfully fragrant flowers right now. The Crape Myrtle does fit the size/summer flowers/fall foliage color and has interesting bark in winter, as well as doing well in a zone 15 climate.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2012 at 12:15AM
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Not truly tender, but I bet you could push to zone 10a, at least, there. :-) There are lots of bananas and TONS of palms that would do.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2012 at 2:26AM
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A friend recommended grevillea Robyn Gordon in a large pot to give it some extra height. I don't know if it will have enough sun, plus I can find it only in Southern California, but I might take a chance on it if I manage to get down south. It does have a tropical look, although it won't do much to shade the patio. I love grevilleas but have never tried growing any.

Here is a link that might be useful: Grevillea Robyn Gordon

    Bookmark   May 8, 2012 at 11:39AM
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deviant-deziner(Oh zone)

Your surrounding plantscape gives the look of a Mediterranean garden and any one of the suggestions that Senor Bahia gave would be a great addition to that plantscape.
I would also add in Cercis "Forest Pansy", especially if you have a house color that would show off its beautiful burgundy heart shaped leaves.

I might add Acacia podalyrifolia instead of A. cognata. I have cognata in my garden and it pretty messy. I have a bunch of bromeliads under that tree and at least twice a month I have to clean out the surrounding plants due to its leaf litter. I don't think that podalyrifolia has the same type of continual leaf drop.

If you like the look of a slightly weeping tree then Callistomen Canes hybrid Pink might be something to research. There is a little litter after the blooms fade but not too bad and the flowers are the most soft cremey blush.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2012 at 11:51AM
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natal(Louisiana 8b)

Doesn't sound like you have enough sun for crape myrtle.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2012 at 12:44PM
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