Friday, June 29, 2018

New Plants for 2018

One of my big plans for this year was to replace the non-native, invasive leatherleaf grape holly, Mahonia bealii, with some native shrubs.  Features of the grape holly that I wanted to preserve were flowers and berries for wildlife and some evergreen qualities that help define that space in the winter.  I decided to use inkberry hollies, Ilex glabra, to carry most of the load.  Also in this space I put a 'Snow Queen' oakleaf hydrangea, Hydrangea quercifolia 'Snow Queen' to continue a screening effect started with two older oakleaf hydrangeas nearby.  A few cinnamon ferns, Osmunda cinnomonea, completed the composition.

Shrubs from left to right are Jim Dandy winterberry holly, Nigra inkberry and Shamrock inkberry. 
Also new are the bright green cinnamon ferns toward the front.  The background is dominated
by a Carolina allspice, Calycanthus floridus.

To create some size variation in the evergreen I got a variety of inkberry cultivars.  'Shamrock' being the shortest (3-4') is in the front and behind it are a 'Densa' (8-10') on one side and 'Nigra' (4-6') on the other.  All three of these are listed as female plants.  To get berries a male plant is needed.  Unfortunately I was not able to get hold of a male plant (such as the 'Chamzin' cultivar).  I saw somewhere that any male holly that blooms at the same time is capable of fertilizing a female, so I put in a 'Jim Dandy' winterberry holly, Ilex verticillata 'Jim Dandy' nearby.  This bloomed at about the same time as the three inkberries. 
Since I was watch the flowers rather closely I noticed that while both 'Densa' and 'Nigra' had exclusively female flowers, 'Shamrock' appeared to have both male and female flowers.  I could find no mention of 'Shamrock' bearing both types of flowers.
Also on the holly front I added a 'Southern Gentleman' winterberry near a well established female.  A few years ago I but in an early blooming 'Jim Dandy' as a pollination partner, but berry production did not improve much.  The 'Jim Dandy' is usually finishing up blooming just as the established female is starting to bloom.  This new 'Southern Gentleman' here has started blooming about 2 weeks later than 'Jim Dandy', hopefully in better synch with the female.  Maybe this year we will get a bush full of red berries. 

Here's the slope prior to planting.  The winterberry is at the top left and
the lower growing aromatic sumac cultivars are on either side of the steps.
 In another area of the yard is a slope almost too steep to mow (about 30% grade).  This year I've decided to put in some steps and plant the slope with native shrubs, perennials and grasses so that it can be left alone.  New plants for this area include 'Grow-low' aromatic sumac, Rhus aromatica 'Grow-low', 'Red Sprite' winterberry holly, Ilex verticillata 'Red Sprite', and fireweed, Chamerion angustifolium.  The 'Red Sprite' is a female clone and was put in as a partner for the 'Jim Dandy' that I planted a few years back. 

Tried to grow fireweed from seed last year, but no luck. 
This year I got some as seedlings.
Here are two red oaks that I will be planting in the woods.
These saplings are about 4 years old.
In the woods around our house a number of older trees are dying.  Some of this may just be natural, some may be the work of the emerald ash borer.  I've also been identifying and killing as many tree of heaven, Ailanthus altissima, as I can.  To fill the open spaces I've been planting oak saplings.  This year I am putting in the more shade tolerant oak  species, red and black oaks, Quercus rubra and Q. velutina.  [P] 

We are also seeing a number of our white pines, Pinus strobus, in our wind break coming apart.  These were planted 40-50 years ago and are probably not in their ideal habitat.  To fill in the gaps in this row of evergreens I've planted some seedling of Canadian hemlock, Tsuga canadensis.  I've spaced these out widely so that any future attack by wooly adelgid will be slowed, since the plants won't be in contact with one another.  I've marked the location of each with a pink flag, otherwise these little plants would disappear into the undergrowth.
I also got a bunch of bare root wild ginger, Asarum canadense, in early spring.  I would like to use them as aground cover along with some Heuchera and violets.  So far most of these are surviving, but they do need some help by removing some of the competitive plants.  My previous attempt did not go so well as the plants were overwhelmed with vinca  and the leaves of an English walnut. 

Most of the American plums, Prunus americana, that were planted last fall survived winter.  One died rather suddenly this spring when all the leaves wilted.  There was a lot of insect activity near the roots, or it could have been too much shade from a neighboring box elder.

I've always loved the look of blue cohosh, Caulophyllum thalictroides, blanketing a shady hillside.  I've been reluctant to plant it in the past because I haven't seen it growing nearby, even though I seems like the right conditions.  This year I broke down and bought a couple of plants to put in on a shady, moist hillside.  This is an area where I have been removing garlic mustard and Japanese stiltgrass, so it's time to get some more plants in there to take their place. 

Post bloom, this Itea tends to blend in with the surrounding foliage.
A few years back I planted a small Virginia sweetspire, Itea viginica, possibly 'Henry's Garnet' under a tulip tree.  It has never got too tall.  Possibly due to the shade and possibly due to deer browse.  Despite its lack of size, this year it managed a couple of blooms.  Encouraged by this, this year I added a larger specimen to a sunnier location.  'Little Henry', a cultivar growing to about 3', was my choice.  It has a compact habit and large flowers.  While the flower display on this one this spring was impressive, now at the beginning of summer it's hard to recognize.  It should have good fall color, though.

No comments: