Small Tree / Large Shrub Speciman for Front Yard

whaas_5a(5A SE WI)September 23, 2009

Previous owners planted a Purpleleaf Sandcherry as the premier front yard plant right off the front door. Looking to replace it next spring.

Any suggestions for a small tree or large shrub that can be limbed up? Season long beauty would be number one goal, but could be as simple as good bright clean foilage year long, like a Magnolia.

Some of my choices may be too large, but if I can contain them since they are so slow growing it may be worthwhile. Could make a 10' X 10" plant work.

Coincidently this is my best spot in my yard. Gets sun from 6am till about 1pm during the growing season (zone 5a, Milwaukee area).

Protected from west and north winds.

Choices so far...

Leonard Messel Magnolia

Blackhaw Viburnum (McRouge or Summer Magic)

Eastern Redbud (Columbus Strain)

Pagoda Dogwood

White Fringe Tree

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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

the link says a red bud can get 30 x 30 ... so strike that one from the list ...

a star magnolia might fit nicely for many years ...

your sun is very limited.. and flowering shrubs need PERHAPS.. more sun than they will get in that spot.. so research that part all out ...

is there any reason you are ruling out rhodies or azalea????


Here is a link that might be useful: link

    Bookmark   September 23, 2009 at 4:36PM
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whaas_5a(5A SE WI)

I haven't necessarily ruled out rhodies or azalea. Really looking for additonal suggestions. They typially don't do well in our neutral to alkaline clay soils. Are there any that are rather large with multi-seasonal interest for zone 5? I have rosebud azaelas, zone 5 hardy, and those things struggled.

The upper crown of the tree would actually get sun until 3/4pm.

I'm also considering a Hydrangea of some sort.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2009 at 5:48PM
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laceyvail(6A, WV)

Fringe trees are very slow growing. I'm a big fan of V. prunifolium--blackhaw, and would think any cultivar would be stunning. Good bloom, nice fall color, handsome berries, and the foliage when it falls kind of disappears, so no raking is necessary. Much longer interest than redbud or Fringe. There are a number of gorgeous magnolias, so if magnolias interest you, research further.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2009 at 6:03AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

other ideas at the link


Here is a link that might be useful: link

    Bookmark   September 24, 2009 at 8:59AM
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whaas_5a(5A SE WI)

Goodpoint Lacey, I think the Summer Magic Blackhaw might be a winner.

I'll have to check out the White Fringe Tree's and Pagoda Dogwood's fall color...if they aren't good (been mixed reviews)I'll go with the Blackhaw. My straight species Blackhaw had a brilliant red fall color last year.

Is there a particular Viburnum I'd need to get berries on a cultivar of Blackhaw?

    Bookmark   September 24, 2009 at 10:50AM
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laceyvail(6A, WV)

I'd go for another Blackhaw, straight species or different cultivar. BTW, mature height might be more than 10 ft, thought perhaps not much more.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2009 at 6:44AM
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whaas_5a(5A SE WI)

Just making sure I got this right...

If I have a straight species Blackhaw planted on the south side of my home and have another Blackhaw cultivar planted on the east side of my home, maybe 80ft away, will they cross-pollinate?

Right now its a toss-up between:

Leonard Messel Magnolia - love the leaf texture and form, but it really only has one ornamental feature.

Blackhaw Viburnum - more suspectible to problems in my area than the other plants. But it has multi-seasonal interest.

Ball o'fire Musclewood - new Johnsons nursery intro, a very small tree (compared to the species). No flowers, but with age, walking by that tree to my front door the musclewood will really look cool....but from the street, hmm.

Firebird Crabapple Shrub Form - again multi-seasonal interest, very very slow growing.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2009 at 10:17AM
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Leonard Messel is really a wonderful plant, though I would worry a little about having to contain it to a 10x10 area. It does have respectable fall color as well, kind of a yellow and/or copperish color depending on the year.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2009 at 7:58AM
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whaas_5a(5A SE WI)

Good to know, I'll watch the one I planted last year. Its leaves turned brown last year, so no fall color (same with Star and Merrill).

Yes that one gets 12'-15' tall...Magnolias are very slow growers in our area. I really should plant a Royal Star if I go with a Magnolia.

The Merrill I planted is quite vigours though...put on over a 1' this year, it does have moist soil. Downspout is close by.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2009 at 9:18AM
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lpinkmountain(5b/6a border PA)

Nothing beats a japanese maple for beauty, IMHO.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2009 at 11:59AM
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whaas_5a(5A SE WI)

Funny you say that, because after all that going back in forth, I'm going to track down a JM for this spot.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2009 at 2:02PM
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lpinkmountain(5b/6a border PA)

Well, there is so much variety with that species, some of them are bushlike and some of them are small yet naturally "limbed up." They can have colorful flowers and seeds, leaves and interesting bark, depending on the variety. But not always easy to find the variety in typical nurseries. And then if you want to order online, what to order, what will thrive. Anyway, that's what I went through. Unfortunately my yard in the back where I have room for the maples is really hot and sunny, so only the most hardy varieties for me, but if I had a more hospitible spot I (one that would support pagoda dogwood, for example), I would definately explore the maple option. Here's a link to the nursery where I bought mine. They were recommended to me by someone on the JM forum. I have only ordered the one tree from them that I have, and it has done spectacularly well. And I was so skeptical that the stick that came in the mail in the fall would even live. The nursery is Herter's Nursery I think in VA? Anyway, below is a link to their Web site My own fireflow or something like that maple has grown by leaps and bounds. It's easily four times the size it was when I got it. It grew a whole lot in the first year, so don't be discouraged by the small size of the saplings. Small saplings tend to establish themselves better right off the bat at a site. They look small at first but make up for the size difference with quick growth and overall health. At least that has been my experience.

Sorry I can't post a picture, my photo site is down. I just got a new camera so am looking forward to posting "before" and "after" shots of my maple.

Here is a link that might be useful: Herter's Nursery Japanese maples

    Bookmark   September 28, 2009 at 1:16PM
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Just curious about why you are replacing the purple sandcherry. Looks like a lovely tree with beautiful foliage color.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2009 at 8:24AM
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whaas_5a(5A SE WI)

Its 15 yrs old, near its life end.

This is "the" most overplanted shrub in my area. Next to burning bush.

I need something more unique and interesting.

My neighbor has 2 dead ones that I have to look at everyday...guy is so damn lazy! Dead stumps in his front yard for 2 years now!

    Bookmark   September 29, 2009 at 9:32AM
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I replaced my 15 year old sand cherry with a Physocarpus Summer Wine a couple of years ago. I liked the dark leafed effect in that spot, but I got tired of the leggy bottoms and japanese beetle attacks on the purple leaf sand cherry.

Maybe a seven-son tree. Needs a lot of pruning to keep it limbed up and to expose the bark, or it will be gangly shrub. But a nice year round plant.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2009 at 2:00PM
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