thoughts on deliberate 'mistakes'

davidrt28 (zone 7)August 4, 2012

Has this ever been discussed before? (I don't frequent this forum)

I have a Poliothyrsis sinensis and a Quercus X turneri that were planted next to each other when very small. With the intention of moving one or the other at some point. As so often happens, they escaped my attention and are now about 9' high...but only 3-4' apart at the base. I was thinking of moving the Poliothyrsis in late fall, but it's going to be a huge chore to dig it out. I thought to "real" nature, this sort of thing happens. 2 different trees have to develop right next to one another. Does every garden planting have to have the perfect spacing? Now thinking I could just prune the Poliothyrsis, which tends to be a bit spindly anyhow, to "lean" a bit to the SE, while the oak is already on SW trajectory. Problem might be that the Poliothrysis is growing much faster, and Q. X turneri is known to be notorious slow in its first couple decades. But the Q. X turneri has a larger potential size with maturity, whenever that happens.

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karinl(BC Z8)

How big a property, and thus how much of a time frame, are we talking here? I ask because on my small property, I've realized that my trees probably cannot realistically be accommodated beyond their teenage years. OK, they might get to their twenties, but the front yard is 20x25 feet, and so unless future owners' landscape preference is for one big tree, frequent turnover is the nature of the beast.

If you are gardening in a space where there really is a possibility of a legacy planting, then it would be worth moving one of them. If that is absolutely impossible then there are two other options.

One is to train the more spreading tree to exaggerate its spreading nature and essentially keep its canopy below the taller one. Yup, the different growth rates may make this challenging. But frankly, your plan of training them to grow each at angle would give me the heeby-jeebies - I hate leaning trees. The direction of prevailing sun will matter for both those options, incidentally.

The other option is to propagate or buy another tree of one of the species, probably the Poliothyrsis, and kill off the one that is too close (or let it die out if it is getting shaded.

Karin L

    Bookmark   August 4, 2012 at 7:14PM
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davidrt28 (zone 7)

Thanks for replying. Yeah, I've thought of air layering the Poliothyrsis to duplicate it, and move it somewhere else.
If there's one gardening mistake I've made repeatedly in the past 25 years, it's overestimating my ability to safely transplant something large. Sometimes, yes, I pull it off. I safely moved a 9' Abies ernestii last year. More often than not, I goof up.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2012 at 7:18PM
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karinl(BC Z8)

It's not just about large... it's also about what kind of root system it has and how well the roots adapt. A tree with a tap root or fragile roots will be tougher to keep alive after a move (one always hears that Magnolias, for instance, don't like root disturbance... but they can survive it). Maybe ask on the tree forum how well the Poliothyrsis would transplant. I'm guessing pretty well because one website described it as a multi-trunked shrub... and they are probably pretty adaptable.

Maybe hedge your bets.... propagate it and then try to move it. Some trees are supposed to be done with softwood cuttings in summer, so it might not be the worst time to try. Or you know, if you found a place to buy one, you can likely buy another.

Shaping a canopy that is 20 feet or more high is not easy - if you have the space, trying the move is worthwhiile.

Karin L

    Bookmark   August 5, 2012 at 1:13AM
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There are deliberate mistakes and then there are deliberate MISTAKES. Planting a couple of large shrubs together and seeing how they duke it out is one thing, but an Oak tree is a pretty big THUG to try to control. And the two trees you describe are already really into one another's space. I can't even think of any small trees that would survive being planted 3-4 feet from another tree but an oak and a poliothyrsis?

That being said, moving a 9' tree is a big job. Do you have any friends with machinery that could help?

If you leave them, how do you envision this working 5 years from now?

    Bookmark   August 5, 2012 at 8:59AM
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karinl(BC Z8)

then there's this...

Here is a link that might be useful: Living sculpture, or something

    Bookmark   August 6, 2012 at 1:25AM
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Wow. thats a level of patience I will never have.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2012 at 6:54AM
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karinl(BC Z8)

The other thing to consider is, what is the do-nothing option, and how bad is it? Depending on where the sun comes from, what you might have for a good number of years is a two-faced tree; that is, a tree grouping that is a Poliothyrsis from one side and an oak from the other. Eventually the oak will likely subdue the P.

If one tree is south or west of the other, the one in its shade likely won't thrive. But in certain orientations they might make a fun project for a while. Remember, even trees are not permanent anyway.

Karin L

    Bookmark   August 6, 2012 at 10:08PM
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davidrt28 (zone 7)

drtygrl your post was especially helpful. I decided I was being a fool and that I'd have to move the Poliothyrsis in the fall. I did, and it is now leafing out. (I wish I'd learned this lesson earlier, but fall is really the only time to transplant anything big unless it's very tender like a camellia. The abies I moved was also in the fall.) But...I'm gonna really drive people crazy's 5' away from an Eastern hemlock! LOL. However, the hemlock is very spindly and, other than shading some prized rhododendrons, serves no design purpose in my opinion. (it's ugly) It was severely infected w/woolly adelgids but I brought it back from the brink w/Merit and light fertilization. However, those things are never going away, and I hate to keep using merit both for the expense and the possible effect on beneficial insects. In 5-8 years when the Poliothyrsis starts to shade the rhododendrons, I will have the Hemlock cut out.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2013 at 6:40AM
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