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Need help with tree choice

Posted by hiddenspring 7b (My Page) on
Mon, Nov 25, 13 at 14:14

I'm planning to make our backyard more exciting than looking at a backdrop of mostly pine trees and a couple of maples and would like to get some help with tree choices. On the left I have spots for two trees, the first spot is sun, the second is sun/part shade both with about 15-20' width possibility - and I'm thinking flowering cherry for the first and Japanese maple for the second. The first spot however is on the side at the border with my neighbor (not at the back) so I don't want something that will spread too much. Out of Kwanzan, Okame and Yoshino, I'm thinking of going for Okame since I read it's more upright and not as spreading as the other two - is that correct?

In between there are two huge pine trees at the border so nothing goes there really - I might put some camellias in the 12' space in between the pine trees.

On the right I already have a dogwood and a small fig tree. In between the fig and the pine there's about 12-15' space. I'm torn between a kay-parris magnolia (so that it's more upright in the space), OR a natchez crape myrtle (for its summer flowers and cinnamon bark - I'm already planting a Catawba next to the deck) OR one of the two trees in the photo below that I have no idea what they are but found in the backyard of a friend who recently bought a home. The left one is a taller tree probably 20' or so. The one on the right is a shorter bush like tree 10' or so - thats their current height ofcourse :-) Both had flowers in October (in South Carolina) which means they are most probably summer flowering and at least one or maybe both were super fragrant!

Would it be possible to ID these trees and any comments on tree choices would be very helpful. Thanks.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Need help with tree choice

  • Posted by bboy USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA (My Page) on
    Mon, Nov 25, 13 at 16:49

Osmanthus and abelia.

RE: Need help with tree choice

You might consider fitting in a pair of Texas persimmons in your 15' spaces. Although they can take full sun, they tend to prefer slight shade under a larger tree as a large understory shrub or small tree. They look similar to crepe myrtles, except (the females) produce delicious berries rather than massive blooms (although they do grow bell-shaped flowers too). They are also EXTREMELY drought-resistant, so could be considered xeriscaping.

I don't know of another heavy fruit-bearing tree that is also so heat & drought-resistant (and thus low maintenance).

It's probably the most unknown and underrated tree in the US, and you would only be so privileged to have a few! B)

Here is a link that might be useful: Diospyros texana

RE: Need help with tree choice

Plants and shrubs I'd consider at your location with the info privided: Little Gem magnolia, Blue Shadow fothergilla, paperbark maple. Vulcan magnolia, Daphne magnolia, sourwood, Rising Sun redbud, american hornbeam, Fort McNair buckeye, serviceberries to name a few =)

RE: Need help with tree choice

Thanks all for your suggestions - part of the problem is I'm limited by what my local nursery carries ;-) so the persimmons/ fothergilla/ buckeyes - all very creative choices btw - are not available. I'm guessing I don't want to wait any longer into the winter to plant and spring may not be the best time.

I liked the fothergilla and vulcan magnolia but neither are available and I might pass for next fall when I can start looking for them earlier.

On the other hand, osmanthus and abelia (thanks for the ID: bboy) are available and I liked both of them! I might go for the abelia instead of the camellia - would anyone know if the abelias are evergreen in NC? Most of the cultivars the nursery has are listed as semi-evergreen except for one called "Canyon Creek".

Osmanthus however might be too big to fit in a 12-15' space. I'm guessing the existing fig will spread over time and I will have to keep pruning these guys to avoid running into each other! So the search is on....

RE: Need help with tree choice

any reputable nursery .. at this time of year.. is ordering big trucks of stock for spring delivery ..


you pay extra for using high end nurseries.. but you get what you want ... and you can get some really cool stuff ...

in the alternative ... ANYTHING is available mail order ... everything grows up... if you can delay instant gratification needs ....

this has nothing to do with bigboxstore ... or shop[ping on a hope and a prayer ....

you are making excuses .. that nothing is available ...

so.... get on the phone .. and find a nursery manager.. who is interested in helping you .. i would guess your window of opportunity is between now and the new year.. or so ...

one trick.. is to ask who they order from.. e.g. iseli.. monrovia ... etc.. and then shop the website of those wholesalers varietals ... and we can help there ..... and then take a list to the manager ...

personally.. i would need a pic of the yard.. to offer suggestions.. words a wonderful.. but i am a visual sort of guy ....


RE: Need help with tree choice

Why not grow from seed?
Pioneering requires more patience, but will still pay off in a few years and is also cheaper...

Plus, the point is that you will have some enviably unique plants that are NOT commonly available in the area...unlike everyone else. :)

Here is a link that might be useful: 50 Texas Persimmon Seeds

RE: Need help with tree choice

Ken - thanks for your interest. Attached is the pic - tried to take panorama but its a bit blurred - I did add my comments. Not too much space but making the best use of it.

I want to put the cherry coz wife wants it and i want the bloodgood. Neighbor has 3 trees planted on the other side of the plot boundary and I have asked him what those are.

The fig, dogwood, and holly on the other side are already there.

RE: Need help with tree choice

blakrab - thanks for the suggestion. I will be honest - I am looking for a quicker result ;-) In fact, I was actually not happy with the fact that I can only get a 3 gallon pot of Bloodgood in the budget I have :-) No idea how long we will be in this house - maybe another couple of years maybe more. So each season is a missed opportunity for me. I just like the idea of some splash of color/ excitement in the garden and then pass it on to someone else.

RE: Need help with tree choice

If you will only be there a couple years, might I suggest you containerize any plants you purchase so you could have the option to take them with you when you move. This might open the budget a tad more since they will basically be an investment for the future as well as being enjoyable while you are at that residence.

RE: Need help with tree choice

If you are looking for things that smell nice, A paperbush (Edgeworthia papyrifera) is a large wide shrub that would love to grow under your pines. It blooms in late winter on bare branches and smells amazing. A fringe tree (Chionanthus virginicus) is a smaller native deciduous tree that when in bloom also smells great. A really fragrant and evergreen blooming small tree, is the banana shrub (Michelia figo). It will fill your yard with a sweet banana candy smell in the spring. One more native nice smelling semi-deciduous small tree would be sweet bay magnolia (Magnolia virginiana) If you sill are thinking about camellias, I recommend Setsugekka sasanqua. It is fragrant-ish(a little weird) but if you are looking for a faster growing camellia it is the one. I grow all of the above in my eastern NC yard, and they are mostly all bulletproof (except the paperbush). The paperbush is a little picky about drainage, moisture, and exposure, but is worth babying because it is so neat. If you are near Raleigh, check out Plant Delights Nursery for an amazing one growing in their zone 7b garden under the canopy of some pines.

Here is a link that might be useful: paper bush images

RE: Need help with tree choice

interesting idea to containerize. Can you elaborate? I'm not sure about it however since who knows where and when life will take us and the plants may not suit that area :-) Alternatively we stay here itself and then at some point the containers will become too small so more work :D

Regarding choice of trees - im not necessarily looking at fragrant flowering trees. Just something that's eye-catching I guess. Longer-lasting flowers are good too - hence the crape myrtle was one of the choices although common. The paperbush seems interesting - Plant Delights has the Edgeworthia chrysantha - I am getting my plants from Taylors Nursery in Raleigh. But can get some from Plant Delights also. The banana bush might be too overpowering in fragrance from the sounds of it. I mentioned Abelia because it was a smallish tree/ bush that had a nice fragrance only when you go near it. It's a bee attractant however and I have to think about that ;-)

The other tree I'm liking so far is the Vulcan Magnolia. Its not available locally I think. Never ordered over the internet before but I guess per Ken I can ask my nursery if they can get this in Spring. Would planting in Spring be ok? I heard it imparts more stress to the plant due to hot summers and fall is the best time.

Finally under the pine trees I'm looking for a smaller/ ornamental plant since would still like to not cover the tall majestic holly behind. Initially i was thinking of camellia/ abelia but I wonder if a dwarf fothergilla might be a good choice. I'm especially liking the red-orange fall colors and will be great contrast against the dark green of the holly. The other option here would be a viburnum that grows to less than 6feet with red-orange fall colors - the good thing about this would be it's readily available in the nursery! Any suggestions?

Sorry too many questions, but thanks all for your responses so far.

RE: Need help with tree choice

  • Posted by bboy USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA (My Page) on
    Tue, Nov 26, 13 at 21:55

If you aren't in a soft climate the 'Vulcan' isn't likely to work out. There is also a problem with the flowers coming out blah purple instead of ~red on some sites.

Mine for instance, where it grew and bloomed for years without ever being red.

A few of the other trees mentioned are not hardy, proven stalwarts either.

Osmanthus like the one shown are slow, you will be long gone from the site before even 10' high is seen.

Glossy abelia, on the other hand is quick - but not evergreen in sharp frost.

RE: Need help with tree choice

I would include Redbud 'Appalachian Red' and perhaps something exotic like a grouping of needle palms which are hardy in your zone btw.

RE: Need help with tree choice

If you are interested in container gardening, there is a container forum you should visit. They discuss soil configurations and water movement that are essential to the health of potted specimens. Of course, you also get to pick out pots that are attractive and add eye candy themselves. They are also very helpful and will answer any questions you might have.


Here is a link that might be useful: Container Forum

RE: Need help with tree choice

Thanks John. I will skip containers however for my first iteration. We decided on Yoshino cherry for that first spot on the left and Bloodgood maple for the second.

For the remaining two spots: between the pines, and between the pine and fig, I have shortlisted 4 options:
1. Viburnum plicatum var tomentosum 'Popcorn' - available locally
2. Edgeworthia chrysantha paperbush - available locally
3. Blueshadow fothergilla - not available locally
4. Vulcan magnolia - not available locally

The viburnum and fothergilla might fit better under the pine trees growing not so tall to hide the holly behind. There's a spot in the front of our house where I might choose to put the fothergilla, so tempted to go with the viburnum now.

Between the fig and pine, both vulcan magnolia and paperbush should fit. Preferene is for the vulcan but looks like it's hard to get and may be pricey. The paperbush is available now but it has the same branching structure as the fig that will be next to it so not sure if those two will look good next to each other ;-) Ok any comments?

RE: Need help with tree choice

Depending on size.....a small to medium tree that flowers beautifully is the Chinese Silk Lilac.
This tree, developed by the Canadian Research Facility in Ottawa, planted widely from zones 4 to even the Ontario in California can pretty up their yards with this tree.
It is now widely being planted on the medians of our cities and small lawns and in parks where flowering is wanted.

RE: Need help with tree choice

I ordered my Blue Shadow from but it is out of stock. I ordered my vulcan magnolia from and it is also out of stock at the moment!

New inventory usually is available in the spring so you may have to wait until then to order if you choose to order from the above mentioned vendors.

Here are some alternative sources for Blue Shadow that I would buy from personally:

Rare Find Nursery

Broken Arrow Nursery (an excellent seller!)

Pine Ridge Gardens - I've bought from several times and have always been very satisfied.

I couldn't find a seller I'd buy the Vulcan magnolia from, however here is a list from rare find of all the magnolias they carry.

RE: Need help with tree choice

Hi guys - I'm slowly planting the trees I already got. The first one was the japanese maple. Obviously I havent planted any trees before, just a few bushes, but i thought this one would be easy since its small. Turns out the small tree is growing in weird angles. I was not sure how to angle it - in the end - I made sure the bottom most stem part is perpendicular to the ground from all 4 directions and didnt worry too much about the branches. As a result the tree looks like it's leaning forward a bit. Photos are attached. Is this ok?
Also another major question I have is whether I have to attach stakes to this and how exactly I do it? Its supposed to be quite windy here today (~15 mph) and rain all weekend. Right now there is a small stake from the nursery which is actually coming out. Thanks for all the help - I'm really learning a lot from this forum.
John - Thanks for all the suggestions I will definitely look them up for spring. Esp the vulcan magnolia. I checked with the local nursery herend they said they should have the mt.airy fothergilla available in spring. Also still interested in the paperbush.

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