Evergreen huckleberry as prunable hedgerow

Discussion in 'Garden Design and Plant Suggestions' started by Gieselmann, Dec 5, 2007.

  1. Gieselmann

    Gieselmann Member

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    Hello there,

    evergreen huckleberry (Vaccinium ovatum) is suggested by April Pettinger and Brenda Costanzo in "Native Plants in the Coastal Garden" as a prunable hedgerow.

    Are you aware of a location of a evergreen huckleberry hedgerow in or around Vancouver (BC)?

    I would love to look at such a hedge beforehand.....?

    Any general comments re. evergreen huckleberry as a hedgerow?

    Thank you.
     
  2. unther

    unther Active Member

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    Vaccinium ovatum may be too slow-growing and too difficult to establish to be tenable as a prunable hedge. That said, I've seen large specimens at least 2 meters high at Darlingtonia State Wayside near Florence, OR. If the soil on your property is old--that is, it's not a new development (i.e.- buldozed into oblivion and had brand new houses crammed onto it) built within the last 10 years or so, or you or the previous owner has been raking up all the fallen leaves every year--you should be able to establish V. ovatum without too much fuss. Otherwise, you'll want to rebuild the health of your soil, which could take a while.

    You might consider Pachistima myrsinites (Oregon box). Although it barely grows a meter in height, you may find it much easier to establish in cultivation than V. ovatum.
     
  3. M. D. Vaden

    M. D. Vaden Active Member 10 Years

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    That which was said in the last reply, might be true. Seems slow growing to establish as a hedge.

    Its not always the easiest plant to find in large quantities - may depend on the time of year and if any local projects used a lot of local stock.
     
  4. Ron B

    Ron B Esteemed Contributor 10 Years

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    Characteristic of sandy soils, along with salal and madrona. As with other heath family plants, unsuitably heavy soil would be a significant barrier to achieving good establishment and growth on many sites where this shrub is attempted. Heating of the root zone is another issue typical with this group. Away from the outer coast evergreen huckleberry is often seen growing wild in the shade of taller trees, those in more exposed positions have less green leaves, in the manner of common box (Buxus sempervirens) and other frequently seen shrubs.

    Native shrubs have their own parameters just the same as those of foreign origin. The current bent for planting natives only is resulting in numerous specimens being doomed to situations where they do not do well or fail outright. A locally native heath family plant like evergreen huckleberry is not much better equipped to grow on damp heavy soil in a hot parking strip than is a heath (Erica) native to Europe or a rhododendron hybrid derived from species native to the highlands of SE Asia.
     
  5. unther

    unther Active Member

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    >Its not always the easiest plant to find in large quantities - may depend on the time of year and if any local projects used a lot of local stock.

    This might also have something to do with the source of the plants. At my local native plant nursery, they receive a fair amount of plant material from people who salvage them from sites slated for development or road construction. Consequently, availability will depend not only on project schedules, but also on the best time of year to successfully transplant (usually mid-fall through really early spring).
     
  6. unther

    unther Active Member

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    >Characteristic of sandy soils, along with salal and madrona. As with other heath family plants, unsuitably heavy soil would be a significant barrier to achieving good establishment and growth on many sites where this shrub is attempted.

    Also keep in mind that this species, and other Vacciniums even more so, definitely benefit from mycorhizal associations.

    >Native shrubs have their own parameters just the same as those of foreign origin. The current bent for planting natives only is resulting in numerous specimens being doomed to situations where they do not do well or fail outright. A locally native heath family plant like evergreen huckleberry is not much better equipped to grow on damp heavy soil in a hot parking strip than is a heath (Erica) native to Europe or a rhododendron hybrid derived from species native to the highlands of SE Asia.

    That's an excellent point. Those of us who are enthusastica about growing natives may be too quick to think, "Hey, it's native, it'll grow!" I, too, am guilty of this. We need to remember that, just like those other plants from Eurasia so often grown in gardens, North American natives also have preferred microclimatic niches. It's important to adequately understand the conditions under which any plant, locally native or not, grows in its homeland before attempting to grow it in the landscape. For example, there's a nice population of Geum triflorum growing on the exposed upper slopes of Saddle Mtn. near the Oregon coast. There are also nice populations of it in the large meadows in Rocky Mtns. Seeing that it can grow in sunny spots, I planted one in sun. That turned out to be a mistake. I failed to take into account that summers in the Willamette Valley are much warmer and drier than those experienced in the places I've seen the plant growing naturally. The meadow area stays moister longer, is less warm during the day and is colder at night, even though it experiences intense sunlight. The coastal population experiences cool ocean breezes, frequent fog and higher annual rainfall.
     
  7. M. D. Vaden

    M. D. Vaden Active Member 10 Years

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    I have not found evergreen huckleberry to be characteristic of sandy soil.

    I'll be going back to hike in the redwood forest in the next couple of weeks, and one plant I enjoy in the understory is this huckleberry. Both deciduous and evergreen grow there.

    But its growing up on stumps, on suspended logs and in areas with clay type soil. Not excessively heavy, but definitely clay and quite moist in areas. Groves of it - some over 8' tall.

    I've seen it in sandy soil too. Nehalem Bay State Park comes to mind. And there is a tremendous amount of huckleberry in that state park among the short pines. The most concentrated areas appear to be where the soil is shaded.

    As far as planting or transplanting, autumn can be a better transplanting season if root systems are severed or reduced. But if an entire root system can be moved from point A to point B, with sufficient routine moisture added, the situation is different.

    It all depends on how much and when.

    About the redwood forest again - that is a very damp environment much of the year too. And the huckleberry appear to be in excellent health. So I would not recommend trying narrow the habitat and ability of this plant too much.
     
  8. Ron B

    Ron B Esteemed Contributor 10 Years

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    Old stumps and logs, of course, also provide a well-aerated rooting environment as does a sandy soil. But I think I may have seen balled-in-burlap stock once or twice that was in a heavier soil. (And quantities of Hardy Hybrid rhododendrons are grown on fine-textured soils in the Willamette Valley and elsewhere in the region). Where the right mycorrhizal fungi are present it may be possible for the huckleberry to grow in an otherwise unsuitable soil texture - perhaps the fungus even protecting it from water molds that would otherwise kill it in a damp soil. Or, the cool soil of the coastal forest may not be suitable for pathogenic water molds apt to exclude heath family plants from heavy soils on sunny sites. Large conifers nearby will also be shielding soil near their bases from rain and taking up and dispersing much of the soil moisture in their root zones. Soil inside stands of conifers not subject to flooding may remain dry much of the year. Otherwise, a common denominator for evergreen huckleberry rooting environment is a low nitrogen content:

    "Occurs in hypermaritime to maritime summer-wet cool mesothermal climates on moderately dry to fresh, nitrogen-poor soils; its occurrence decreases with increasing elevation and increases with increasing precipitation"

    --Klinka/Krajina/Ceska/Scagel, INDICATOR PLANTS OF COASTAL BRITISH COLUMBIA (UBC, 1989)
     
  9. M. D. Vaden

    M. D. Vaden Active Member 10 Years

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    One other thing about huckleberry - seems that most I've seen in the forest are in shady environments.

    And in landscaping, I've never seen another plant that kept such good color in the darkest shade imagineable.

    I recall removing some limbs from a groupl of pines one day, where the interior almost couldn't have become more shaded. And there was a marvelous specimen of a evergreen huckleberry in the center. Never even knew it was there until some pine branches were removed.
     
  10. mmdeaton

    mmdeaton Member

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    I get my [SEARCH]evergreen huckleberry [/SEARCH]plants through the Snohomish County [SEARCH]Soil Conservation District[/SEARCH]'s annual native plant sale. Check with your local state or provincial agency responsible for farmland conservation, water quality, and so on to see if they have a similar program. Here in Washington, we have several [SEARCH]tribal nurseries[/SEARCH], too, that provide native plants for riparian repair or restoration as part of the effort to preserve salmon spawning grounds. This also helps ensure that the plants you are getting are acclimated to your climate, and not some other location.

    I am glad to read that they take a long time to grow. I got mine three years ago as little more than 6-inch high twigs with roots. They are almost a foot tall, now. I was beginning to think I had planted them in the wrong place. Since they grow as an understory in nature, however, I am going to move them to an area under some cedar trees where there is less vegetation on the ground (other than moss) and see if they are happier there.


     

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