Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Making Progress. . .

There still aren't a lot of shrubs in the nurseries around here. It's a little surprising to me. I think the earlier in the spring shrubs are planted, the better, and the more time they have to get established while the weather is relatively cool and rainy. I really prefer to plant trees and shrubs in the fall, but early spring will do in a pinch. The privacy we lost along with our neighbor's weeping willow tree qualifies as a pinch, so this time, spring it is.

I've got the forsythia planted, and my latest shopping trip, though still not as productive as I'd have liked, produced a red twig dogwood and a river birch.

The dogwood will take it's place near the forsythia. I think the contrasting bark colors will be nice in winter, and the forsythia blooms and red dogwood branches will be pretty companions in the early spring. The river birch will replace a sorry looking, half-dead Washington Hawthorn near the spot where the willow came down.

Although our neighbor's shed helps with the privacy situation, the back of the shed isn't much to look at. So I dug up three blackhaw viburnum suckers and planted them on our side of the shed. I hope I got enough roots and they'll survive the transplant. They're small - 2 are about 2-1/2 feet tall, and the third is only about 18 inches tall. Planted as they are on our side of the shed, it's ok to start small. Anything I plant in the void where the tree and other shrubs used to be will be as tall as I can get!

The viburnums will provide food and shelter for the birds, and they have lovely white flower clusters in mid-spring. We keep the viburnum hedge trimmed, so it doesn't bloom much. The three babies in back, if they survive transplanting, will be allowed to grow in their natural form, bloom, and get to their full mature height of about 15 feet, whereas the hedge is kept to about 7 feet.

Next up, I must find some willows! I want catkins to force! I like the ones with pink catkins. I hope I can find them. And maybe one more forsythia. That should just about fill the void, and I'd still like to add a couple of winterberry hollies. I'll need two - one female for berries, and one male for pollination. Oh, and I almost forgot, maybe a few arborvitaes to layer behind the deciduous shrubs. These should all do well in the moist soil back there, provide cover and/or food for the birds, and go a long way towards restoring our backyard privacy. We're making progress while impatiently waiting for the garden centers to get their shrub stock in.


  1. red twig dogwood meets forsythia - what a beautiful combination that'll be! I bought a red twig at the the end of the season last year and I'm patiently waiting to see what it's going to do.

  2. Your plans sound well designed -- you've given a lot of thought to your choices.

  3. You have such a good eye! I love the idea of Forsythia and red twig Dogwoods.

  4. Yummy colour combinations, indeed. There's nothing out at any garden centres here that i've seen, so far--but I haven't checked since last week. Still cold--sunny, but that wind off the water is rude!

  5. Hi there you "busy bee" ! LOL
    Wow .. your garden is going to look amazing girl : )
    Those contrasting colours are wonderful .. I understand your issue with privacy .. I have it too .. it is funny what amazing schemes you can come up with when forced to .. speaking of forced .. I miss catkins .. hope you find some good one !

  6. I like all your choices and was just thinking that they were all deciduous, when you threw in the arborvitae. All bases covered, and fairly fast growers all. You really know your shrubs. Now if you can get the nurseries to figure out that a bush does not have to be in bloom for us to buy it...

  7. I have been away for a while yet someone's been quite busy. What lovely ideas you have Linda. And arborvitaes are a perfect choice for the background, they add a great screen and always accentuate the contrast with the nearby plants. Our garden centers are stuffed with new arrivals every other day, and I wish it was the other way round, for it brings out a sort of addictive misbehavior and all my lunacy I usually disguise so well lol. Btw I remember your post about the moist part of your garden and it got me thinking about the graceful Tamarix tree which I used to dry up the part with excessive humidity - and it's such a fool for the moist.

  8. Sounds like a plan. Don't bother buying another Forsythia, they root so easily (too easily) you could just propagate the one you have. I really like the pink Pussy Willows. My sister used to have one & I'd go out to her garden just to touch the catkins.

  9. Yes, you are making fine progress. How about some viburnums and Rose of Sharons. I so agree that nurseries need to carry shrubs all year long. In spring, we don't have room to put them all. Winter would be a perfect time to showcase them. We could spread them out in the nursery more and make big signs to show what they would look like when full grown. I love the idea.

  10. Oh this and this and this...!! You go. So many plants, so little time? I'm also enjoying planting shrubs in early spring, but wish it was warmer here for more selection. It sure seems that more should be out, but one nursery said they were waitnig to make sure everything was fully alive before putting it all out.

  11. Great color combo ideas. I actually prefer planting in the spring, but it can get a bit cold in the fall and I like to give my plants plenty of time to become established before they freeze.

  12. Sounds like were dealing with almost the same privacy issues. I just did a post today about needing to put in some trees and shrubs along the perimeter of my yard! Your plant choices sound great!

  13. our house is very close to the neighbors & their trees are sucking up all the nutrients I give to my plants so when one of their trees got blown over by the storm the other week I started dancing!

  14. Thank you Gina. They do look pretty together, I must say! I'm looking forward to seeing the dogwood leaf out, but then again, that means the forsythia will done blooming!

    Nancy, thank you. I wasn't sure at first WHAT to put back there because of the moisture. Fortunately there's a bit of a mound back there to elevate the bases of the shrubs so they won't be sitting in water much.

    Melanie, thanks! I'm really pleased with the way the dogwood and forsythia look together.

    Jodi, we had beautiful weather today, a bit windy, but not so bad at 60 degrees, and they're predicting sun and 70 degrees for tomorrow. (rain and cooler after that.) It finally feels like spring here. I hope it warms up in your neck of the woods soon!

    Joy, thank you, and yep, busy's the word lately. I've got another project up my sleeve I hope to get to this spring too. Wish me luck (I may need it.)

    Frances, It's hard for me to understand why we can't get shrubs early in the spring. The nurseries have plenty of room right now - most of their outdoor display space is empty. They'd have little watering to do since it's cool and rainy this time of year, and I would think anyone who knows much about trees and shrubs and plans to plant any this spring would like them to get a good head start on the heat.

    Violet, I have that same lunacy. This is the time of year for going nuts at the nursery! I wish I had enough room for more trees back there. I initially thought I'd put the birch there, but then when I went back there and really checked it out, I realized anything much taller than a large shrub would end up too close to the pine trees as it matures. Now you've got me curious about Tamarix - guess I'll have to do some more research!

    MMD, I've already got some forsythia branches that I'm rooting in my basement 'greenhouse.' For the area I'm planting right now though, I'm looking for the largest shrubs I can find. We need our privacy back post haste! I'm sure I'll have no problem finding a few spots to plant the forsythias I'm rooting, and they're so pretty and delicate-looking when they're small.

    Anna, I think it's a bit shady for rose-of-sharon to bloom much. I've got the viburnums covered with some suckers I freed from our viburnum hedge. They're pretty small, but eventually I hope they'll make good bird cover and berries.

    Benjamin, yep, I would love to take one of each! Each what? Oh, each of a long list of flowering shrubs!

    Cinj, I've always had good luck planting trees and shrubs in September. I think it gives them a chance to get their roots well-established before they have to deal with the stress of our hot, dry Chicago summers. They seem to need less watering when planted in early autumn.

    Amy, I'm curious about your situation, and will definitely be by to check out your post (after I get some sleep!)

    Garden Gnome, I wanted to cry when that willow tree came down, broke another tree about 1/2-way up the trunk, and uprooted at least two shrubs when it came out of the ground roots and all. Our yard was completely private, and now there's a big, gaping wound to fill. I choose to see it as an opportunity now. I wish a windstorm would uproot that sad-looking Washington Hawthorne back there so I could plant the birch right now!

  15. Lovely spring pics. I live in Singapore so I miss the feeling off spring:-)

  16. Relieved to know forsythia roots easily!

    (We shall see!)

    But I'm wondering what kind you have.

    The kind I like best is quite feathery, with widely spaced, lightly coloured flowers.

    Others have heavier, more densely packed flowers in a deeper yellow.


    P.S. The awful thing is, I don't know which kind my cuttings come from! The ones I'm nurturing so tenderly! E.M.

  17. MIL, In Chicago we seem to have a relatively short period of spring weather. But we certainly do enjoy the mild spring weather while it lasts, before it turns to hot and humid.

    Esther, I have an older cultivar - Forsythia x intermedia Lynwood. The blossoms are the more saturated yellow color. To me it looks like sunshine.

    It's fast-growing, and should grow nice and full and tall - just what I wanted for screening. The one I got was already 6' tall, so hopefully once it leafs out it will help with privacy back there already this year.

    It looks like my cuttings are starting to get some tiny roots! They are done blooming and are leafing out now, while the shrub is in full bloom and looks lovely.

  18. (Perhaps I should pull out my forsythia cuttings (gently) and see if they are growing roots yet?)




  19. Esther, I've done that with other things I've rooted to see if something is rooting, not pulling it out of the medium, just gentle pulling to see if there is resistance. If there is resistance, you've probably got some rooting going on.

    It might be too soon to tell, because if they are starting to root the roots will probably be very short still and may not give very much, if any resistance. Have your cuttings already bloomed or started leafing out? If they're starting to leaf out and the leaves aren't wilting, that's probably a good sign!

    Mine are easy to see since they're the cuttings I put in water primarily for the flowers. They're just tiny root buds pushing out of the stems so far. If they were in a rooting medium instead of in water, they'd probably still pull right out.

    I've been avoiding changing the water as you suggested, and I think that's helping them root. I didn't see the little buds until a few days after I stopped changing the water.

    I have dogwood cuttings in vermiculite. I dipped them in rooting hormone first. They're starting to leaf, and there is slight resistance when I pull them gently. I think they are rooting too!

  20. I won't really pull them out.

    I've got three cuttings.

    With two, the leaves are opening.

    Maybe the third isn't doing so well?

    None have flower buds on.

    Ming has put just the very tip of one in a pot - and that is the one that's doing best so far.

    I'll see if I can get some to stick straight into the ground too.

    (Getting carried away with this!)

    Have never tried vermiculite.

    Dogwood - I've see some pretty photos on the North American blogs.

    Red Buds too. Don't think we have them here in England.

    One day, I plan to be rich and famous.

    I shall buy enough land to have a wood in it. And it shall have Dog Wood and Red Buds.

    (We have Dog Roses later on. They're pretty too.)


  21. You are a very industrious spring planter! I admit I tend to do most of my planting, especially shrubs, in fall. As much as I look forward to spring, I find it hard to start the season with heavy digging! :) On the other hand, I have a witch hazel and pieris with my name on them (literally!) waiting for pickup at a spring sale in a few weeks, and, um, yeah, I guess I'll need to plant those before fall! DOH!
    ~ Monica


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