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Need ideas - what will grow here....

Posted by woodyoak 5 (Canada) (My Page) on
Sun, Jan 19, 14 at 17:52

I have an area I call 'the wet corner' that is very boggy in spring (any hole dug immediately fills up with water) but dries out thoroughly in summer. The area is fairly shady from the neighbour's trees (white pines and a few scruffy deciduos 'weed' trees) but is gradually getting a bit brighter as the pines are dropping branches. The soil is clay with about 6" of mixed leaf litter and compost on top (we dumped a 4" or so layer of compost on it a few years ago when we needed to clear out the compost area to rebuild the garden shed!) Currently there are ostrich ferns, kirengeshoma, filipendula, goatsbeard, hosta, and a hydrangea or two growing there. But it needs height so I'd like to have a tree there - can you think of anything that might have a chance of surviving in those conditions?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Need ideas - what will grow here....

I have an area similar to what you describe and I have planted Nuttals oak, Willow oak, Swamp white oak. The neighbor has Silver Maples that have shaded a good bit of the property line area. Willow oak is zone 5 on the Arborday site, and zone 6 on Mossy oak natives. Swamp white oak is zone 4-8, and Nuttals oak is zone 5-9. Shumard oak is said to survive wet soil, but likes well drained b est, I have a Shumard in an area that gets swampy when rain is showing up a couple times a week, and is heavy. Shumard is zone 5-9 hardiness. I am a big fan of oaks, there are tons of other trees out there, of course.


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RE: Need ideas - what will grow here....

All of these trees are still small, but, I want to add that out of all those I have mentioned, the Swamp white oak (Quercus Bicolor) is said to be the most for lack of a better term, awe inspiring. The bark peels a bit, the branches spread out wide, someone said "It screams oak", so is surely something to behold, with some time, surely, but not as long as you may think. Mine do at least 2 ft a year.


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RE: Need ideas - what will grow here....

I hadn't thought of oaks... Will check out those.


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RE: Need ideas - what will grow here....

  • Posted by whaas 5a SE WI (My Page) on
    Sun, Jan 19, 14 at 20:47

There are quite a few trees for this. What are you trying to get out of it? Size, habit, fall color?

Nyssa is an easy suggestion. Tolerates temporary flooding and then can tolerate some drought later in summer.


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RE: Need ideas - what will grow here....

Good fall color would be nice. Mainly I'm looking for something to add some height to an area that is otherwise all lower plantings so is kind of boring...


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RE: Need ideas - what will grow here....

Bald Cypress.

Arktrees


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RE: Need ideas - what will grow here....

'Ogon' dawn Redwood
'Snow Flurry' dawn redwood


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RE: Need ideas - what will grow here....

When I checked them out, they all seemed to be said to need more sun than I have. A couple needed acid soil and our soil is on the alkaline side. Maybe I'll just have to take my chances re sun. Are there any understory trees that would survive? They'd be more apt to be adapted for the shade that is there I think.


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RE: Need ideas - what will grow here....

Red Maple (Acer rubrum), multiple varieties.
Most birch species
Blue beech aka American hornbeam (Carpinus caroliniana)


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RE: Need ideas - what will grow here....

Exactly how much direct sun does this spot get in the middle of summer? Have you had your soil ph tested to for certain what it is?


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RE: Need ideas - what will grow here....

It sounds to me like a large shrub is more what you are looking for than a small tree. Winterberry, several of the shrubby dogwoods, are some of the things growing in my swamp.


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RE: Need ideas - what will grow here....

  • Posted by whaas 5a SE WI (My Page) on
    Mon, Jan 20, 14 at 14:40

Carpinus betulus, done.


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RE: Need ideas - what will grow here....

Speckled Alder is usually more of a shrub but it would definitely thrive there and occasionally grows into a tree. Smooth Alder would also.

It would be a stretch in Zone 5, but baldcypress is a pretty tree that likes swamps.

Black tupelo? Red Maple? The former has fruit and the latter nice fall foliage.


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RE: Need ideas - what will grow here....

No issues growing Bald Cypress south of a line from Kingston to Kincardine. It should also grow without issue in the heat islands of Ottawa and Montreal when grown from an appropriate seed source.


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RE: Need ideas - what will grow here....

The tupelo sounded interesting but this is what the nursery I buy trees from says on their site:

This tree does best in full sun to partial shade. It does best in average to evenly moist conditions, but will not tolerate standing water. It is very fussy about its soil conditions and must have rich, acidic soils to ensure success, and is subject to chlorosis (yellowing) of the leaves in alkaline soils.

So that doesn't sound promising for me. I haven't had my soil tested but anything that likes acid (e.g. rhodos, blueberries...) don't last long here while things that prefer neutral-to-alkaline soils do better. As for sun, the area probably only gets a few hours of direct sun at mid-day and then several hours of bright shade on either side of that. Things might have changed a bit for this year since the neighbour's pines dropped branches in the ice storm.

I'd be afraid Bald cypress might eat up the whole space - how fast does it grow and can you keep it limbed up high enough to be able to work under it? I've tried winterberry and shrubby dogwoods but they languish and peter out in a few years. Maybe I'll give birch a try. I'd be inclined to try alder but I don't want the area overtaken by a thicket. It's the most difficult area in the garden to figure out what to do with other than perennials.


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RE: Need ideas - what will grow here....

I'd opt for a soil test - not sure HOW alkaline you're talking.

Red Maple (Acer rubrum) does fine in the wetness/soil conditions, except for the alkalinity possibly being an issue.

Silver Maple would do fine, and Freeman maple also OK for more alkaline soil. In fact the cultivars 'Autumn Fantasy' & 'Autumn Blaze' also have great fall color.

Baldcypress "prefers" acid soil but does OK on neutral soil as well. Dawn redwood too.

Swamp White Oak should do OK as long as it isn't too alkaline, neutral is OK and I think even to about the mid 7's in pH from what I've read.


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RE: Need ideas - what will grow here....

  • Posted by whaas 5a SE WI (My Page) on
    Tue, Jan 21, 14 at 10:58

Keep in mind birch does not have a garden friendly root system if you plan to utilize other plants under the canopy.

No go on Carpinus betulus? Smaller to mid sized stature, alkaline/water logged soil tolerate. Tolerates drought.

How long do you have standing water?


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RE: Need ideas - what will grow here....

Whaas - I checked that one out again - it's described as 'low canopy - 4' - how does it do limbed up to 7' or so to make it possible to work under it?

Reading further on the nursery site... The American one sounds more appropriate and a definite possibility if I can limb it up.

BTW - the site has no visible standing water but, in spring (April and early May) any hole, regardless of size or depth, immediately fills up with water. By mid July it can be bone dry and it's not an easy location to get a hose to, so it rarely gets watered.

This post was edited by woodyoak on Tue, Jan 21, 14 at 12:46


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RE: Need ideas - what will grow here....

  • Posted by whaas 5a SE WI (My Page) on
    Tue, Jan 21, 14 at 14:09

You can limb up any tree. Its just more difficult with smaller trees as you have to maintain the balance of size and clearance. Some are listed as being lower limbed as they naturally maintain them to keep their roots cooler. Fagus and Aesculus come to mind.

My understanding is that Carpinus caroliniana is intolerant of water logged soils but Carpinus betulus is tolerant.

PS: Nyssa will work for your site. Its going to vary from tree to tree if it will tolerate your alkaline soil. I found that trees that prefer acidic soils grown on slightly alkaline soils (7 to 7.5) really struggle when the soil is droughty. I'd really be inclined to use Nyssa if your soil is moisture retentive throughout the year. I think a soil test would be worth it.

This post was edited by whaas on Tue, Jan 21, 14 at 14:15


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RE: Need ideas - what will grow here....

Whaas - Nyssa looks interesting too but the American Hornbeam description sounded more appropriate. Here's what the nursery's site says about both:

Amer. Hornbeam:
The American Hornbeam will grow to be about 30 feet tall at maturity, with a spread of 25 feet. It has a low canopy with a typical clearance of 4 feet from the ground... This tree performs well in both full sun and full shade. It is an amazingly adaptable plant, tolerating both dry conditions and even some standing water. It is not particular as to soil type or pH.

Nyssa:
Black Gum will grow to be about 40 feet tall at maturity, with a spread of 25 feet. It has a low canopy with a typical clearance of 3 feet from the ground,.. This tree does best in full sun to partial shade. It does best in average to evenly moist conditions, but will not tolerate standing water. It is very fussy about its soil conditions and must have rich, acidic soils to ensure success, and is subject to chlorosis (yellowing) of the leaves in alkaline soils.

So, both of them are low-to-the-ground but the hornbeam sounds the most suitable re soil, sun, and pH so I think I'll try that one first and see how it does. I did a Google image search to see limbed-up version and I can see why it looks best low to the ground, but can be acceptable limbed up a bit.

Thanks for all the suggestions/help. Much appreciated.... :-)


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RE: Need ideas - what will grow here....

How about Chokeberry?

'If you want to buy the Aronia Berry or Black Chokeberry (Aronia melancarpa) plant, you will get a deciduous shrub that can grow six feet high and wide. It grows rapidly and becomes an impressive large shrub within a year?s time. It has dark green foliage that turns red in the fall. In May, it becomes covered with little white flowers that turn into little glossy deep purple, almost black berries. Due to its aesthetic beauty, the bush is popular as an ornamental shrub in North America, and is particularly useful in absorbing swampy areas.

It is terribly forgiving of growing conditions, tolerating swamp-like conditions or dryness; acid, neutral, or mildly alkaline soil; full sun or half shade (though it will not have its best appearance in too much shade); are rarely troubled by insects or diseases; & fantastically cold hardy. It is very little stressed by transplanting & a young shrub can be planted in any season with equal success.

About the only thing it can’t handle is too much heat. It?s ideal condition is a moist well-draining soil in bright sunshine. In shade it will get lankier but still a nice shrub.

The species grown for fruit and antioxidants is Aronia Melanocarpa. There is a closely related species Aronia arbutifolia, a coastal plain species from Newfoundland to Florida and Texas.

Aronia melanocarpa seems to do better in moist soil. It seems to be a tough plant, surviving weed competition on sandy loam soil though with little growth. The foliage is handsome. A poster to the North American Fruit Explorers list reported that some strains are eligible for fresh eating and others, harsh for fresh eating, are good juiced.

The aronia juice has a unique taste, with a pleasant tartness somewhat similar to cranberry but with sweeter low notes as in blackberry. Its juice and extracts from the berries have also been used medicinally.'

"Group or mass in shrub borders, small gardens or open woodland areas. Ability to withstand wet conditions makes it suitable for growing on the margins of ponds or streams. Excellent addition to naturalized areas where its suckering, colonial growth habit does not need to be restrained."
http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/PlantFinder/PlantFinderDetails.aspx?kempercode=j420

Here is a link that might be useful: is particularly useful in absorbing swampy areas

This post was edited by blakrab on Tue, Jan 21, 14 at 23:29


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RE: Need ideas - what will grow here....

Diospyros virginiana 'Yates' or 'Early Golden' are self-pollinating persimmons you could utilize, and their roots are garden friendly for understory plantings as are persimmons adaptability as an understory tree, itself.

There are other self-pollinating varieties, as well. I've eaten 'Early Golden' and it's very good. I've also eaten a seedling persimmon with no 'cultivar-name' and it was even better. Regardless, 'Early Golden' is quite delicious.

Dax


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RE: Need ideas - what will grow here....

I have an Aronia melanocarpa that barely survived several years in too much shade. A couple of years ago I moved the surviving bit out into more open conditions whre it gets a bit more light. It is now growing as a (very) small tree in front of the shed. It's the rather wispy-stemmed thing in front of the shed; you can see the light reflecting off the leaves. I'm not sure whether it will ever become something with more presence but it was well on its way to dying out where it was before. I very much doubt that it would survive 'the wet corner' (which is to the right of and further back than the shed in the picture.)
Image Hosting by PictureTrail.com

The American hornbeam was the only one where the nursery site said it could take a lot of shade, as well as wet, so that appears to be my best option. This path ends at 'the wet corner':
Image Hosting by PictureTrail.com

There is more light (especially petween 10:00-2:00) than those pictures might indicate but it is clearly best to plant something both shade and wet-tolerant.


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RE: Need ideas - what will grow here....

I'm still mulling over trees for the wet corner and still favouring the Amer. hornbeam. But I just read something that said it had a shallow, wide spreading root system. That worries me wrt what that might mean for the perennials and shrubs that are already there. Does anyone grow this tree and can tell me how garden-unfriendly it is...?


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