The Arbor Day Foundation approached me about designing several plant combinations that their members and fans could use to create plantings of aesthetic interest and which provide function in the landscape. Over the next few months I will be sharing information behind these plant combinations and how they can be used as “do it yourself landscape designs”. Previously I outlined the Hedgerow Bird Shelter, aka the Bird Magnet planting. Let’s now explore the Shade Tree Planting.
Shade Tree Planting
While working on the design for the Shade Tree Planting, the primary goal was to produce an attractive planting that could be installed below a mature shade tree. Often times the area below a mature shade tree becomes problematic for the homeowner due to the canopy of the mature tree shading out the turf below as well as the trees surface roots sometimes becoming unattractive. The Shade Tree Planting is designed to be installed below the canopy of a mature shade tree and offer months of flowering interest.
These shrubs in this plant combination will provide cover where turf will not grow and will aid in discussing unattractive surface root. Additionally, these shrubs will benefit from the trees leaves in the fall of the year. It is recommended that the shed leaves be allowed to remain below the tree as the decomposition of these leaves provides nutrients for the shrubs included in the Shade Tree Planting. The plants provided in the Shade Tree Planting thrive in such shady conditions as below mature trees.
3 – Forsythia
3 – Blue Hydrangea
5 – White Mollis Hybrid Azalea
Hardiness Zone: 6-8
Sun Exposure: Shade
Space needed: Area below a mature shade tree
The Shade Tree Planting consists of the 11 shrubs installed around the base of a mature shade tree. Some adjustments may need to be made to the provided layout plan based on locations of tree roots as damage to the trees roots should be avoided when the planting is installed. The Forsythia and the Blue Hydrangea are recommended to be installed at 7’ on center. The White Mollis Hybrid Azalea are recommended to be installed at 4’ on center. Refer to the layout plan for additional information on the recommended layout pattern for the Shade Tree Planting.
The Forsythia is a fast growing shrub with early blooming yellow flowers. Forsythia is one of the first shrubs to bloom and signals springs arrival each year as it comes alive with brilliant yellow flowers. Forsythia is sure to set the mood for the coming spring and is a great addition to any garden.
The Blue Hydrangea is a late blooming flowering shrub with giant clusters of blue flowers from 8 to 15 inches across. The blue bloom is a welcome color in the garden as it is naturally complimentary to the green foliage colors of the summer garden and blue is a fairly rare bloom color so it seems to warrant added attention in the landscape.
White Mollis Hybrid Azalea offers clusters of white spring blossoms and will bloom between the Forsythia and the Blue Hydrangea. White is an especially great color for shady areas such as below a mature shade tree as white blooms seem to somehow glow in shaded locations. The White Mollis Hybrid Azalea is sure to become a favorite of any gardner who chooses it.