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Planting A Living Framework For Your Garden
by Jennifer Moore
by Jennifer Moore


Jennifer Moore is the owner and operator of Moore Landscaping based in Elora, Ontario. Jennifer is a talented writer and landscape designer providing unique landscaping services.

Her website can be reached here...

July 4, 2010

Shrubs and trees form the framework of a garden, provide shelter to birds, cool your house during the summer, keep the house warm in winter and add interest on your property. Winter may seem like a dreadful thing to think of now, but as fall approaches, so too is the time when shrubs and trees can be planted. As our flowers die back during the fall and we are left with a white blanket of winter snow, it is our living framework that keeps us interested in our gardens and helps us from looking at a white expanse of snow.
Nurseries have wonderful displays of various trees and shrubs available to the gardener, giving us the opportunity to create different looks in our gardens. We can choose from the more common varieties or decide to be a little different than our neighbours. We have a choice of trees and shrubs in different forms; coniferous, deciduous, flowering or non-flowering and fruit bearing.
The deciduous varieties have leaves of plain green, burgundy, golden yellow or varigated. Some varieties change colour throughout the season and some are evergreen, meaning they don't drop their leaves during the winter. To add further interest, some varieties have peeling or different coloured bark, twisted branches and different growth habits.
The coniferous varieties also have many choices; short or long needled, evergreen or not, different growth habits and needles in yellow, green, blue and bronze.
The choice to be made is sometimes daunting, but many factors can be looked at to help narrow down the choices available. Before going to a nursery, think about where you will be putting your trees and shrubs, as well as how many you think you will need. Dig up your soil in the location you will be planting and determine what soil type you have; sandy, clay or loam. Also look at the growing area, recording how many hours of sunlight the area receives and if the area is exposed to salt spray and drying and harsh winds. Lastly, determine what planting zone you live in. All of these factors will narrow down the choices for what will survive and work best for you. With this information, the nursery will also be better informed to help you make the best choice.
Listed below are some of the more unusual shrubs and trees that are available:
Corkscrew Willow - A very interesting deciduous tree that is a relatively fast grower. Its branches twist and turn, providing something a little more unusual to the grower. The leaves are green with silver undersides, narrow and slightly serrated. It bears catkins in the spring and is a wonderful sight even standing alone. It does best in a deep loam, full sun location and can reach 20 feet tall, therefore best suiting a larger property.
Varigated Dogwood -The dogwood bush is a relatively carefree shrub. It will tolerate moist areas, any garden soil and grows well in full sun or part shade. The most striking of all the varieties is the red-barked variety, with varigated leaves. It will reach 5 feet tall with a 4 foot spread, but can be pruned smaller. To increase the numbers of red branches, 2 to 3 large branches need to be pruned out every spring. In the winter, the red-coloured stems that are the previous year's growth are quite a sight against the white snow.
Spiraea - An interesting type in this category is the Spirea billardii 'Triumphans", with its fluffy, rose-lilac spikes. This type exhibits the best flower presentation of the summer-flowering types of spirea, is a quick growing shrub and does require a light pruning after flowering to help retain its shape. It is an easy to grow shrub, requiring full- to part-sun in semi-fertile soil for an abundance of blooms to appear. Even without the flowers, the bright green, serrated leaves are a great addition to any garden.
Beauty Bush - Nothing is lovelier than this bush in full bloom in May and June. The blooms are dark pink in bud, then open to pale pink, bell-shaped flowers that are seen right to the base. When in bloom, this shrub is covered everywhere, making it difficult to see any leaves at all. The Beauty Bush is easy to grow, does well in all types of soil and prefers full sun. It has branches right down to the base of the plant, thus being able to stand on it's own with a few annuals planted around for constant colour. It can grow large, spreading 7 to 8 feet in diameter if not pruned after flowering. When not in bloom, it keeps a round shape with dark green leaves.
Butterfly Bush - Speaking from experience, this Zone 5 bush can be pushed into Zone 4. It does get winter-killed to approximately 6 to 8 inches above the ground, but comes on with a vengence to bloom in late August. I started my Buddlea, as they are sometimes called, from seed three years ago. My bushes stand almost 6 feet tall and 5 feet in diameter and have wonderful lilac-type blooms in white, dark purple and light purple. The monarch butterflies and hummingbirds do visit this gently arching plant often, attracted to the sweet smell it emits. The leaves are elongated and medium green, that extend right down to the base. My bushes are not given any special treatment, other than a 4 inch wood mulch that is around the base and a large snowcover that seems to drift on top of them. They are all planted in full sun, on the west and south sides of my house in clay soil.
These are only a few of the many varieties available. There are many more, including the Smoke Bush, Amur Maple Bush and Japanese Maple. Visit your garden center to see what you can add to your garden, to increase interest throughout the whole year. Remember, when a tree or shrub is planted, consider it to be permanent as it is difficult to move, once it has a few years of being established.

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