Messages posted to thread:

Alex09-Mar-02 08:52 PM EST 3a   
Ed10-Mar-02 07:23 AM EST 5b   
Susan10-Mar-02 08:47 AM EST 6a   

Subject: Blue Spruce Blues
From: Alex
Zone: 3a
Date: 09-Mar-02 08:52 PM EST

Hello. My neighbour plans to cut down her beautiful 40 year old blue spruce in the spring. I realize that it cuts out her light and takes up the entire back yard but - I am heartbroken - really. There is a far corner of my garden which gets good exposure. I would like to try and compensate for the loss to the environment. If we were to plant an evergreen - what could it be?? I would be fine with any pruning needed. I would like to cater to local birds. I do not want to harm my dogs' paws with sharp needles. We are in Edmonton. I would love some suggestions. Also, are Blue Spruce native?

Subject: RE: Blue Spruce Blues
From: Ed
Zone: 5b
Date: 10-Mar-02 07:23 AM EST

As sub for the spruce, your choice is limited only by the hardiness factor for your zone. For your particular purpose, any variety other than dwarf or low growing would fill the bill,and of course, several would compensate for the loss more quickly than one. Most blue spruce are not native, though some with a bluish cast may well be. In any case, blue or otherwise, colour does not affect environmental viability.

Subject: RE: Blue Spruce Blues
From: Susan
Zone: 6a
Date: 10-Mar-02 08:47 AM EST

I'm afraid my sympathies lie entirely with your neighbour! While it's sad to have to remove a mature tree, a 40 year old spruce can be an overgrown, very ugly thing! I'm planning to cut down a 40 year old White Spruce (which has blue/gray needles) in the spring as well and use the space to plant a small grove of flowering trees. Removing the spruce and replacing it with several more attractive trees will both enhance my garden and improve the environment for birds as it will create a better environment for some berry producing shrubs that are currently shaded too much by the tree and the replacement trees will provide shelter and fruit for the birds while enhancing my garden with flowers. What does your neighbor plan to do with the space freed up by the removal of the tree?

In terms of planting a substitute evergreen, the one I really love is Pinus strobus (Eastern White Pine). It is hardy to zone 2b so should grow for you. It has lovely, long, soft needles that feel wonderful when you brush against them. In maturity (in your children or grandchildren's lifetimes!), it is a tall, stately tree with an instantly recognizable profile. It naturally loses its lower limbs as it gets older so there is much more light and space under them than under most evergreens. It sheds needles in the fall each year; I leave most of them where they fall but gather some to add to those that fall around the rhododendrons and the blueberries that grow on the edge of the trees. The needles also make a good soil addition if your're trying to lighten the soil as they enhance drainage (although they increase acidity - which is fine for my woodland garden....) Avoid planting pines anywhere near exposure to road salt - it will eventually kill them. I share my backyard with a half dozen or so of these beauties (some on my property and some on the neighbours'), a juvenile red oak and a mature White (maybe Green) Ash; it makes for a shady garden but one that is easy to plant and grow things in. Spruces, on the other hand, do not, in my opinion, enhance a garden beyond their first 15 years or so, unless you are fortunate enough to be gardening on a large acreage. In my .25 acre suburban yard, a mature spruce is more of a negative than a positive. Your neighbor probably feels the same....

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