Shrubs for problem area

Discussion in 'HortForum' started by Mike in North Vancouver, Mar 26, 2006.

  1. Mike in North Vancouver

    Mike in North Vancouver Member

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    There is a part of my garden that presents a real challenge. I have been trying to come up with appropriate shrubs for it for a number of years and I have struck out and am hoping some of you may have some ideas for me. The area is immediately in front of my house and it is the area just below the overhang. Looking at the house from the left side and moving right, I have a 10-12 foot Cedar, then a 3'x3' spot (spot A), then a 3'x3'x3' bluish type of Spruce(I think), then another 3'x3' spot (spot B) then another 3'x3'x3' spruce (I'll stop there). The area faces southeast and gets sun in the winter from morning till 2 and in the summer, because of a Japanese Maple, from 10until just after 2.

    In Spot A, I have been growing a Choisya Ternata in front with a smokebush behind. The Choisya seems fine; but the Smokebush is a bit spindly and I am thinking that it is not doing well in this spot. In Spot B, I had a Viburnum Davidii which is not a good area for it; but, I thought with regular watering in the summer it might be OK - it hasn't been OK and I moved it to a better spot yesterday (there are also some lillies in the very back part of this area which do fine).

    Although I amend the soil in Spot A and B every year, the soil in the summer becomes very dry and lifeless quickly. I suspect that the Cedar and spruces are taking in most of the moisture in the area.

    I am looking for an evergreen shrub for Spot A that will fit in the area and grow to around 8 to 10 ft. I am wondering if a Photinya would thrive in the dry soil beside the Cedar (the green leaves with new red ones would be perfect ) - if I can't find an appropriate evergreen, I am contemplating moving a buddleia I have that might be fine in the soil conditions.

    Spot B is the area I would most like to deal with as it is more prominent. In essence, I want a nice problem free 3'x3'x3' shrub that will do well in this area. A thriving viburnum would have looked lovely. A Photinya would be nice in this spot too; however, I am thinking it grows too high to plant in this area. One shrub I am contemplating is Mahonia Compacta (I have seen a Mahonia Charity but it looked a little sparse and that it would not fill the area as well). I have seen Mahonia Compacta in a picture. Can anyone tell me if they can be obtained in the Vancouver area and if they grow well in Vancouver and, more imporantly, if they might be an appropriate choice for Spot B?

    I would be interested in any and all thoughts and recommendations about possible shrubs I might add to the above-noted spots. Sorry for the length of this e-mail; however, I thought it might be better to err on the side of providing more info. Thanks in advance for any thoughts.

    Cheers

    Mike
     
  2. oscar

    oscar Active Member

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    Photinia is a nice plant, if you have acid soil maybe consider Pieris Mountain fire (still get red new growth, flowers are better) or Osmanthus Burkwoodii....smaller plant 3x3x3 Sarcococca humilis or a clipped Buxus Elegantissima.
     
  3. westcoastgarden

    westcoastgarden Active Member

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    Two evergreen shrubs I have grown successfully under the overhang are - California Lilac and rosemary barberry. The latter is particularly nice looking and provides a nice protective mass of thorns under a bedroom window and pleasantly scented yellow flowers. I keep it cut back to approx. 4 feet wide by 3 feet tall but expect it would grow larger. It is quite slow growing.
     
  4. Mike in North Vancouver

    Mike in North Vancouver Member

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    Oscar, thanks again for helpful assistance. Westcoastgarden, I wasn't aware of either shrub so I will check into these. Thank you both.
     
  5. KarinL

    KarinL Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Is it possible the smokebush just needs pruning?

    Another option for the tall spot might be Leycesteria formosa, though it's not evergreen. I just noticed one growing at the base of a cedar in North Van, on the pathway into the Ron Andrews Rec Centre (on the left as you go into the centre). I was a little surprised to see it there as I grow it in full sun, but I also have it in poor dry soil, so maybe that's its strength.

    I just read in the A-Z encyclopedia that Osmanthus doesn't like the winter sun.

    Another wierdo for that low spot might be Ruscus something or other... evergreen, cool red berries. Or there's always yews (Taxus, cephalotaxus). Tha'ts if you stick to shrubs. Ferns, or oddly enough an Acanthus mollis could give you the same size.

    And I'm not sure you've got enough sun for the Ceanothus/California Lilac. It is a fabulous plant, however.
     
  6. oscar

    oscar Active Member

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    *scratches head* really Oo i just read the RHS version, did'nt mention anything about not liking winter sun, i checked the Hilliers manual also, and nothing there, prehaps its something to do with Canada

    I also checked both parents of x Burkwoodii and it does'nt mention about too much sun, except when grown under glass.

    Kind regards
    Oscar.
     
  7. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    If you're going to start scratching your head every time someone posts something on a gardening forum you don't expect or understand you're soon going to be bald.
     
  8. bcgift52

    bcgift52 Active Member

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    Winter sun, can't apply here in the PNW because we don't usually have any !
     
  9. Mike in North Vancouver

    Mike in North Vancouver Member

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    Well, I looked into some of the recommendations. I was overwhelmed by the pics of Ceanothus. It looks beautiful and would be perfect for Spot B. The spot gets pretty hot in the afternoon - how much light would a Ceanothus need? If the Ceanothus doesn't work for the area my thoughts are towards the Sarcococca.

    Still undecided about Spot A. The Osmanthus looks nice (I also liked Osmanthus Delaviddii (?))

    KarinL, interesting point about pruning the Smokebush. I pruned it a little while back and we will see what happens. I don't know enough about Smokebush to know whether mine is doing well or not. I have seen some that are bushy and mine seems to have straggly branches mainly growing out to the sun with another leaning against the Cedar and not bushy.

    Well, thanks again everyone for these very helpful comments!
     
  10. oscar

    oscar Active Member

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    how do you know im not bald already, i could have been very offended :(
     
  11. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Full shade for sarcococca. Osmanthus won't burn up in this region unless the temperature drops below the mininum for it. There was some damage to Burkwood and Delavay osmanthi here in the Seattle area during the coldest-in-thirty-years winter of 1990. Hollyleaf osmanthus, however, was not much affected, if at all.
     
  12. Dee M.

    Dee M. Active Member 10 Years

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    So you're saying that spot A and/or spot B gets no sun in the summer? That means you are looking for a dry shade evergreen. Photinia would be a bad choice, it is also very prone to a leaf spot disease. How about spot B? Ceanothus needs at least half a day of sun but it is drought tolerant, you could always give it a try, it is a nice plant. I think the Compact Oregon Grape, the Mahonia 'Compacta' , would be a good choice, it is a native and is easy to find. Heavenly Bamboo and Aucuba would be possibilities, and the Osmanthus and the Barberry should do fine. Smoke trees really need all day sun. Make sure you choose plants that are drought tolerant. Since this is a hard place to grow plants they will be slow growing so you might want to buy a bigger plant to start with.
     
  13. oscar

    oscar Active Member

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    Small shrub, Pittosporum tobira Nana and i like the Nandina idea from Dee (does it suffer from viruses up there) Probably too sunny for the Aucuba (maybe, its difficult to know without seeing the area)

    ps The Sarcococca will grow in deep shade, light shade and full sun (if the soil is moist)
    and as you have said the soil is dry, it might be pushing the Sarcococca to its limits.......shame i dont live near, i'd give you a Sarcococca just to find out ;)

    Choisya Aztec Pearl?
     
  14. Mike in North Vancouver

    Mike in North Vancouver Member

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    Hey Dee, I may not have communicated clearly in my earlier post. The area gets sun. There is sun from about 10 until just after 2 in the summer (might even be to 2:30 or 3, I will have to check better when we finally get some sun, and might even get some early morning sun before the sun gets blocked out by the Japanese Maple that is just in front of and to the south east of Spot B). The problem is that the area is under an overhang and the moisture in the soil appears to get sucked dry by the Cedar and Spruces in the area.

    From what I am hearing, perhaps the area may be too dry for the Sarcococca in Spot B. However, I take it from the posts that Ceanothus and Mahonia Compacta may be good choices fro this area (and Osmanthus for Spot A). I will check out the other suggestions as well. Btw, does the above change your view about whether Photinia would do well in Spot A or should I still be worried about leaf spot disease? Thanks.
     
  15. Laurie

    Laurie Active Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    We have 24-inch eaves so the soil below gets little water. Several years ago I set an Osmanthus delavayi planted in a five-gallon peat pot against the house on the west side and forgot about it. It grew into the soil and prospered there, and I only water it a little when I think of it since it is right next to the vent to the crawl space, and I fertilize it less than once per year. It is thriving with beautifully arching branches of deep green leaves that have never been pruned, flowers reliably every winter with fabulous fragrance, and is by far the easiest cultivated plant on the property. This in soil where Sarcococca confusa and Trachelospermum jasminoides suffer yellowing leaves (from low nitrogen?) even though they are watered frequently and fertilized yearly. I will eventually replant it so that all of the roots are in the ground, but it is happy for now.

    I also set an Elaeagnus pungens planted in a five-gallon peat pot out in the woods and forgot about it. It wasn't under the eaves so it received more rain water, but it was competing with native plants and wasn't fertilized, but did fine. Strollers at the UWBG Arboretum last fall were stopped by the fragrance of E. pungens 'Maculata' wafting from a distant plant that they could not locate. It seems its fragrance carries farther than that of O. delavayi, but the color of the house, it seems, would be a factor in choosing a cultivar with such a shade of yellow. I like the contrast of the leaves of E. pungens against the Xanthocyparis nootkatensis 'Pendula', a non-native neighbor.
     
  16. Dee M.

    Dee M. Active Member 10 Years

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    Almost all Photinias get that leafspot around here. From a distance they can look ok, so I guess it would depend on how much it bugs you to look at spotted leaves.
    It probably is too much sun for the Aucuba but the Elaeagnus is another possibility.
     

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