Specimens That Grows in Zone 5

aloha2009May 1, 2012

What is your favorite specimen(s) to grow. I have several areas that I will need a focal shrub/plant. I've got some ideas but with so many plants out the there and so many areas that I need a specimen plant, I'm open for suggestions. TIA

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I'm in the same boat. Tempted to go with dwarf (not mini) conifers.

But this link has some items worth investigating

Here is a link that might be useful: tree/shrub list with attributes

    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 5:41PM
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This might be worth a look, too.

Here is a link that might be useful: nice specimens

    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 5:43PM
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Some people like boxwood,barberry,lorropetalum,forsythia...but other time they buy small tree,j-maple,lilacs,juniper...not sure.you should search some plants to match your areas---nice landscape.
I prefer to add some ideas on the photos,to avoid the results be very different.we read and understand it more easy too.
You really need to post some pics that show the several areas situated and conditions and the property line and the perimeter of the several areas (They are not too close up).
first upload photo to any photo-hosting site.Photobucket and Flickr are examples . While at that photo on the site,
look for a link to "share." Then look for a way of obtaining "html code" (don't select the thumbnail version.)
Copy that code and paste it directly into your message here.
You should tell us that sun light time and local name(or zone) and soil PH and climate.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 8:09PM
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Sorry,I have knew you be zone 5.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 8:12PM
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Nice architectural conifers for year round structure.
If you don't already have large shade trees on the site get them going first thing.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 9:03PM
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Thanks for all the replies.

Last year we put in 4 new trees (only had 1 before). Besides the front yard, the rest of the yard will be xeriscaped. This of course forces many, many planting areas. I have most of the areas planned our for specific sized planting and many ideas for smaller perennials and shrubs. It's the focal points that I of course want extra special. I just thought I'd like to hear other people's favorite specimens are

    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 11:05PM
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If you just want favorites without any context... focal point in one bed is a large "Mandarin" Northern Lights Azalea; another bed an old double white rugosa rose; another bed a weeping blue atlas cedar; top third of another bed - a globe blue spruce, middle a "Golden" Northern Lights Azalea and looking for something in an interesting conifer for the bottom third.

Things can be focal points, too. At the back of my yard, up a sweep of lawn I have a sort of hidden garden. I built up a plinth (until I can find just the right piece of architectural salvage) for a nice fluted urn. The contents are the usual thriller, filler, and spiller which change from year to year according to my whims.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2012 at 12:25AM
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I have too many faves to list, but I'll repeat a couple that will convince forum followers that I know no other plants. Not true... I just keep "pushing" them because I think others should know them, too. (English Ivy will not be mentioned as a Zone 5 favorite!)

Kolkwitzia amabilis... as a small (10'+) tree, but not as a shrub (which is how it is almost always grown) is outstanding. Because the world of horticulture is also the world of repetition of information (whether it's wrong or right) Kolkwitzia is endlessly called "boring" when not in bloom. To me, it is a multi-season plant. Maybe because its common name is BeautyBUSH that people try to keep it at 3 - 4'ht., but this is against its nature. It's a fast grower and once established will quickly shoot up higher than a person's head after being lopped to the knees. It's nature also dictates that it becomes "leggy" as soon as the canopy begins to shade out its lower reaches. This translates to its wanting to be a multi-trunk tree. Its much easier to allow (encourage) the legginess. The added benefit is being able to see the continually peeling, exfoliating cinnamon-colored skin lying just under the papery bark... of seasonal interest all winter long and increasingly ever more beautiful as the trunks thicken with age. While I've seen so many of these hacked back after bloom in the attempt to keep them short, in the tree form their canopy, because of its fast growth, has a naturally, semi-weeping habit... a bouquet with Jackie Kennedy's hairdo on top. There's no dispute that when it blooms (for a good 2+ weeks) that it epitomizes the idea of a mountainous, weeping, heap of pale pink glory. Because I don't live now where this plant grows, I can't speak of the particulars of its cultivars: 'Dream Catcher' (aka 'Maradco')... with foliage supposedly emerging with coppery overtones, then becoming chartreuse and eventually producing bright fall color; and 'Pink Cloud'... supposedly of more intense pink... seemingly difficult to find except in Europe. This "old fashioned" shrub was immensely popular throughout the earlier half of the 20th century, but it's use began declining with the popularity of smaller plants for ranch houses. I suggest it just needed another "job." I guess I'm on a one-man mission to bring it back.

Another favorite is 'Annabelle' Hydrangea. Looooong season of cool-looking greenish, then white, then bronzy mop-head flowers. Doesn't get ridiculously tall. Looks fine in many locations but is outstanding massed below a tree of weeping form like crab.

I like old favorites like Lilac. Not in the shrub form but as a multi-trunk tree cluster or small grove... with an underplanting. Peonies and hosta, too. Can't beat a tree peony.

Viburnum carlesii...not only has out-of-this-world scent, but a nicely rounded dome shape... easy to develop a loosely (or tightly) manicured-looking finish, if desired. Has a beautiful, somewhat silvery cast to its foliage color. Pretty in foliage, bud, bloom and berry.

For interest during the barren winter period, it's essential to have ornamental grasses such as those of Miscanthus and Calamagrostis. An often overlooked possibility are colored bark plants such as red-twig dogwood and coral bark Maple. But their bark is only at its best when they are grown as pollarded plants and it is continually regenerated.

A perennial standard that has always appealed is Siberian Iris... 'Cesar's Brother', in particular. The blue color cannot be beat. The vertical, bluish cast green, grass-like foliage looks handsome long after the bloom has faded. While it's a vigorous grower that, with dividing, can multiply the stock rapidly, it's not the least invasive.

Hybrid daylilies are nice, too for seasonal color at the patio.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2012 at 1:31PM
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I guess it comes down to what one considers a "specimen". To me that is a plant that makes one stop, take note of and admire - a common tree, shrub or perennial would not cut it in my book. But something like a paperbark maple, a 'Fukuzumi' Japanese white pine, a lion's head Japanese maple or a 'Red Majestic' contorted filbert will always draw attention and cause one to pause.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2012 at 2:09PM
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My thought, too, gg. We've all got favorite plants in our gardens - things one notices once the eye drifts away from a "focal point". I always thought of specimen as that showcased "one of".

    Bookmark   May 2, 2012 at 2:41PM
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Having lived where Crape Myrtles are a dime a dozen for so long I can testify that most of them are little more than ratty dogs. 98% are allowed to grow whatever way nature dictates, or they are roughly hacked to bits by plant butchers. Neither method makes a specimen. But there are 2 out of 100 that are breathtakingly outstanding. I don't think it's so much a plants bloodline that makes a specimen as it is that, plus the way it's shaped and cared for. The common can become the superb.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2012 at 6:09PM
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