small trees for school planting advice please

Discussion in 'Garden Design and Plant Suggestions' started by kpen, May 3, 2008.

  1. kpen

    kpen Member

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    Hi there,

    We are looking for suggestions for 2 small (max height 15-20 or shorter spread 8-10 feet approx) deciduous trees to plant at the main entrance to our elementary school in West Vancouver. We originally thought of spring flowering but few of those would provide fall colour and a nice silhouette in winter. The building is red brick so we were thinking perhaps something like a pale green maple with green bark would show up nicely and provide fall colour. The site is west facing and the watering beyond the first two years may be sporadic. So we need a tough tree with a lovely bones. Some maples I have looked at include golden full moon (shirasawanum aureum) - which I can't find anywhere and have been told may get leaf burn in afternoon sun, Osakazuki - which is available (would it get too big?) and Seiryu which is what I believe I have in my garden and has a lovely green bark which would show up against the red brick.
    I am concerned that if the maples spread too widely they will obstruct the entrance a bit. They will be planted on each side of an entry that is about 6 feet wide. Early leaf out and late leaf drop would be considerations too.
    Other thoughts include viburnum bodnatense dawn (for winter and fall interest) or stewartia (although it will flower when the kids are no longer in school) or star magnolia which would be pretty in spring but unremarkable otherwise.
    We are thinking of defining the planting with a border of dwarf box - to keep little feet away.....we need low maintenance and good structure...

    THANKS!
     
  2. jimmyq

    jimmyq Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    consider japanese snowbell, fragrant snowbell and cornus florida rubra.
    Try contacting the BCLNA (BC landscape and nursery association, www.bclna.com) if you are looking to source materials, they have an email service to members that might be of benefit to you.
     
  3. kpen

    kpen Member

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    Thanks for the suggestions but the I have the Styrax in my garden and don't think it will give much fall interest and often the flowers don't show until late June....the cornus is an interesting option but I do worry about disease...we are leaning more to a pale green - almost chartreuse - leaf. I will look into the fragrant snowbell as I am not familiar with it...I have a feeling the fall colour may not be outstanding...?

    I am curious as to why this thread is not showing up in the the new posts section. Have I done something wrong when I submitted it? It is only showing up in the Garden Design section.

    Also I gave the wrong dimension for the width of the entrance - it is actually 10feet wide with a concrete half wall on each side.

    thanks again
     
  4. kpen

    kpen Member

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    stewartia flowering time?

    Hi for some reason my post is not showing up on the main board. I am looking for suggestions for trees to plant on either side of an elementary school entrance.

    Stewartia is appealing but I can't pinpoint when it flowers here in Vancouver. Specifically will all the kids be out for summer when it flowers or will it flower in June.

    thanks!

    If you have any other suggestions it's a west facing site - 10 feet wide entrance - red brick wall behind. Year round interest/fall colour etc are important.
     
  5. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Re: stewartia flowering time?

    The Stewartia pseudocamellia you see planted near entrances, in tight corners and narrow strips are liable to eventually exceed these spaces. Heading back the branches of this kind of tree spoils it. On some sites it becomes a medium-sized tree. This happens soon enough that there are already local examples in that height range.

    Such places really call for a shrub instead, of upright habit such as Enkianthus campanulatus. I have seen this one used effectively on the south side of a bank near here.

    Note also that unless the school building has a perfectly symmetric facade - with existing beds and plantings also laid out in the same way - matching pairs by the door will not correspond to their surroundings. Better to use asymmetric balance, with the same weight on each side of the door but not using matching pairs of identical plants. An example of such a planting would be a tall shrub on the left and a short shrub plus a medium shrub on the right. Each would be a different kind.
     
  6. Daniel Mosquin

    Daniel Mosquin Paragon of Plants UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Re: the new posts question - your own posts will not be shown to you under "New Posts" because it isn't new to you... but it will be new to everyone else (and shown to them)
     
  7. jloftus

    jloftus Member

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    I would like a smallish tree for my back yard as a screen between properties. I checked out Jimmyq's 3 suggestions - the snowbells & the dogwood. I would love to have a pink dogwood but I worry that it will be too big. Can they be trimmed so that the spread would be 10ish feet?
     
  8. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Impossible to hedge a dogwood without spoiling the branch structure. What about vine maple, have you looked at that? Upright-branching and leafy (on good moist soil) in sun and therefore good for screening - although like other deciduous trees you can see through it during the winter.
     
  9. tlpenner

    tlpenner Active Member

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    Acer palmatum 'seiryu' is a good choice for your parameters of size, colour and early leaf-out. It will need watering during the summer for at least the first two years after transplanting.

    I heartily agree that an assymetrical lay-out is preferrable, especially on school sites. I have done many school greening plans, and the plant survival rate averages around 50%, so it is better not to have symmetrical plantings. That way if one survives and the other doesn't, the plans still work.

    You could consider a winter blooming shrub such as Cornelian cherry, Cornus mas. They have lovely pale yellow blooms which last for weeks, from late January till March, and the shrub would fit beautifully into the space you describe without outgrowing it. Or the fantastic native early spring bloomer (early March through late April) red-flowering currant Ribes sanguineum

    Other evergreen possiblities I have used to edge the planting areas on school grounds which are low maintenance and do not require irrigation are Mahonia nervosa (dull Oregon grape), Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (kinnickinnick) Helictotrichon (blue oat grass) and Festuca ovina 'glauca' (blue sheep's fescue).

    By sticking with native plants, there are some curriculum connections that are easily made. You will find more info on that at Evergreen (go to www.evergreen.ca and click on Learning Grounds).



    Good luck and have fun with it!
     

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