Messages posted to thread:

Ruth11-Aug-03 03:58 PM EST 5a   
Ed11-Aug-03 05:55 PM EST 5a   
dm11-Aug-03 09:55 PM EST 3   
Nancy12-Aug-03 02:19 PM EST 5   
carolincalgary14-Aug-03 09:52 AM EST   
jeannine20-Aug-03 07:15 PM EST 4   
Nancy21-Aug-03 02:00 PM EST 5   
sarah m21-Aug-03 03:03 PM EST 3a   

Subject: Planting a perennial garden around a tree
From: Ruth
Zone: 5a
Date: 11-Aug-03 03:58 PM EST

I would like to plant a circular perennial garden around the base of my willow tree . The tree is well established and creates a lot of shade. It faces south west. What types of plants would you suggest?

Subject: RE: Planting a perennial garden around a tree
From: Ed
Zone: 5a
Date: 11-Aug-03 05:55 PM EST

Ruth, the shade and competition for moisture and nutrients severely limits your choice. For starters, I would suggest forget about colourful flowering perennials. Ferns and Solomons Seal, Lily of the Valley, Hosta, Ajuga and Vinca ( periwinkle ) would be worth a try some distance from the trunk, but don't expect miracles !

Subject: RE: Planting a perennial garden around a tree
From: dm
Zone: 3
Date: 11-Aug-03 09:55 PM EST

Ruth, if you're willing to make sure your plants are sufficiently irrigated and mulched, you might be surprised at what you can grow. I inherited two mature trees from a previous owner: a blue spruce and an ornamental crab. They are spaced closely together; their branches intertwine, and there's heavy shade beneath them all year (the spruce was placed on the south side of the crab). Several years ago, I replaced the pitiful grass between the two trees with hostas, double bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis Flora Plena) and bishop's hat (Epimedium rubrum). All are doing well, with very little upkeep. The bloodroot and bishop's hat bloom in early spring, before the crab fully leafs out. (By the way, the spruce has its branches all the way to the ground. All of the plants are between it and the trunk of the crabapple. There are no plants directly under the spruce.) A self-seeded corydalis lutea and a voluntary columbine are also growing there this year. Make sure you amend the soil where you're planting, but be careful when digging around the tree roots. My neighbours have many large trees and shrubs in their mixed bed, including a laurel leaf willow. They have several woodland plants and ferns growing near and under the woody plants. Ed is right that really colorful perennials need good sun, but there are many beautiful foliage plants for shade. If we can have success in Zone 3, it will be a piece of cake in Zone 5!! (Be on the look-out for slugs!) Good luck.

Subject: RE: Planting a perennial garden around a tree
From: Nancy
Zone: 5
Date: 12-Aug-03 02:19 PM EST

I'll second dm's comments about the corydalis lutea. Mine's doing famously under my trees and has been blooming all summer. Try Corydalis ochroleuca for similar white flowers. Geranium macrorhyzium does well in dry shade, blooming in the late spring.

While there are few perennials that will bloom really well in the shade, there are a lot of great foliage plants that should do OK. Try lamiums, lamiastrum 'Herman's Pride', hostas (especially on the sunnier south side), Pulmonarias, Heucheras.

Have fun!

Subject: RE: Planting a perennial garden around a tree
From: carolincalgary
Date: 14-Aug-03 09:52 AM EST

I cant remember our new zone here but certainly lower than yours! I have a huge old laural leaf willow in my back yard - spread probably 20 feet. Heres what grows under there: Anemone,sweet woodruff,wood violets, ajuga,,polygonum nearest to the trunk(and right up to it in some cases) A bit further out pulmonaria, primroses, jacobs ladder , fernleaf bleeding heart, ladies mantle, several creeping veronicas, wooly thyme around some stepping stones and dianthus at the edge of the grass.Right out at one edge a bed of ajuga with 3 gold mound spireas and purple palace coral bells and a rather scrawnu, small purple leaf sand cherry . A lot of these plants are spring flowering so tend to look their best just as the tree starts leafing out.Vut they look nice even when they are not flowing. I am going to add a couple of hosts near the outer edge this fall.

Subject: RE: Planting a perennial garden around a tree
From: jeannine (
Zone: 4
Date: 20-Aug-03 07:15 PM EST

i want to plant a perenial garden around my maple .i was thinking of putting a bird bath and planting around as i need to seperate my perenials .when is the best time to seperate my perenials

Subject: RE: Planting a perennial garden around a tree
From: Nancy
Zone: 5
Date: 21-Aug-03 02:00 PM EST

Jeannine, the best time to divide your perennials will be in spring (Apr/May) before they get too big to handle.

Subject: RE: Planting a perennial garden around a tree
From: sarah m (
Zone: 3a
Date: 21-Aug-03 03:03 PM EST

I think so long as they are not actively flowering (and preferably after they have flowered) you can separate perennials anytime. Sling is best as they are not actively growing and are smaller and easier to handle. But I think for most you can cut them down to ~1/3 size to make them more manageable and divide them and plant up again. Just give them enough time before freeze p to get their new root system established, maybe give them some transplant fertilizer. Cutting foliage and spent flowers off will allow the plant to focus its metabolic activities on its root system and leaves, rather than on seed production which will also help adjustment.

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