Looking for advice on what ornamental tree to plant in garden bed

Cal_00August 4, 2014

Hello, i have a question I'd like to ask a more experience landscaper to get a second opinion. I plan on making a 20 x 20 garden bed in the east side of my house. This area gets sun from morning to 3:30PM. I was planning on making it into a perennial garden mix with some roses and other flowering/colorful bushes. In the center of this 20x 20 area I wanted to add a small ornamental tree but I'm really not sure what would look good in that area surrounded by said plants. I have a few Japanese Maples and would like to go a different route as far as those go. I was thinking of putting a Weeping Snow Fountain Cherry tree but I'm not sure if one of those would look good in the center. If anyone has any advice or any pictures of their garden with a tree in it I would really appreciate some advice. As far as the height of the tree, I'd like it to remain about 15 x 15 or lower. Thanks

I'm located in NE Indiana in zone 5B.

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gardener365(5b Illinois USA)

Chionanthus virginicus may be of interest.


    Bookmark   August 5, 2014 at 7:04AM
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A flowering crab may be suitable or a dwarf redbud. And Chionanthus is an excellent suggestion!

    Bookmark   August 5, 2014 at 5:43PM
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Thank you both! I spent a few hours last week trying to search for the perfect tree and I didn't come across the Chionanthus. After searching some images and reviews from other people I think this is the perfect tree. Now time to call local nurseries to see if they carry them. Thanks again.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2014 at 7:57PM
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whaas_5a(5A SE WI)

Depending on your soil type I'd venture for a more vase shaped ornamental, like Cornus kousa, that offers fall color, blooms and doesn't leaf out so late.

In addition depending on the backdrop, ie green, I'd go for a variegated Dogwood like Summer Fun to create a focal point.

Not knocking the suggestion, I have one myself, just want to get some other ideas out there. Its takes alot of patience to get a fringe tree going as a tree as they need caliper to hold themselves up. I have an 8 year old, 4 years in the ground and its 6' tall. Grown as a single stem tree. Flops like a son of gun in heavy rains.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2014 at 9:02PM
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Thanks Whaas, that is exactly what I'm trying to do. I'm trying to find a tree to be the focal point in the garden I'm building. My soil is hard Indiana clay, it's the type of clay where I can't dig more then a few inches with a shovel unless the lawn has been watered. I was going to amend the soil like I've done with my other trees to help the tree out.

As for the Fringe tree, I read on Dave's Garden on how the flop like you described. I still have a few weeks to think and research on what I'm planting. The Kousa is definitely on the list. I called my Lowes here in town and they have a few big ones in stock. I'm going to check them out tomorrow. Thanks

    Bookmark   August 6, 2014 at 12:06AM
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mikebotann(8a SE of Seattle)

Chionanthus virginicus is an under performer for me. When it was in full bloom this year I didn't even take a picture of it....and I like taking pictures. It's the last deciduous plant to leaf out for me in the Spring. So much so, that visitors ask if it's dead. Mine is grown as a 12 ft. shrub. The branching pattern is nothing to brag about and the Fall color is a so-so yellow.
I would think as a center piece you can do much better. I like whass' suggestion of a Cornus kousa.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2014 at 5:32AM
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Thanks Mike. That is a beautiful tree...is that yours?

    Bookmark   August 6, 2014 at 5:16PM
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whaas_5a(5A SE WI)

Cal, if your clay is slightly acidic/neutral AND well draining the dogwood would do fine. Do not amend your soil....do add a layer of organic mulch though.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2014 at 5:21PM
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mikebotann(8a SE of Seattle)

Yes, it's mine. I grew a lot from seeds. That's one of them.
Here's a grafted one that 's pink. It's called Cornus kousa, 'Satomi'.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2014 at 11:16PM
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laceyvail(6A, WV)

Well, I love my C. kousa, but it would completely fill a 20x20 bed, leaving room only for a shade tolerant groundcover.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2014 at 1:00PM
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mikebotann(8a SE of Seattle)

You're right, Laceyvail, I got carried away! I can think of a lot of trees here in Zone 8, but Cal_00's Zone 5, and design suggestions, really limits the possibilities in my world.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2014 at 4:06PM
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