Archive for the ‘Trees and Shrubs’ Category

In design we often add collections to an interior to accessorize our rooms.  A collection will be an item of similar content, shape, or maybe color.    There are numerous variations to a potential collection.

This is true also in our gardens.  We all have favorites for our garden.  There are popular favorites of well-known plants such as hosta, roses, herbs and succulents that we often find in gardens.  There also are collections of more rarely known plants.  This summer I hope to post information on some of my favorite collections.  These collections will vary in categories for species, color, texture etc.   I’m hoping you will enjoy this series of articles and the information added about my experience with the collection.

My Favorite collection:

One collection I have in my Garden is the Peony (genus Paeonia.)  I have a few varieties of the Herbaceous type, but also collect the more rarely grown Tree Peony and Itoh Peony.  The one surprise is that most people feel that this species are more difficult to grow.  By far, they are extremely easy to grow and bless you with the largest most fragrant blooms.  I have found that they are less susceptible to disease as well, such as Powdery Mildew often associated with the Herbaceous varieties.   Although it is best to plant and transplant them in the Fall, they easy adapt to Spring planting with frequent watering.  It’s best to water them as you would a newly planted tree.   The Tree Peony grows on hard wood and is a deciduous shrub.  It does not die back to the ground as the more common Herbaceous peony or the more recent introduced Itoh Peony.

Hu Shui Dang Xia

In my collection of Tree Peonies is this pink variety named Hu Shui Dang Xia.  A year ago last fall I moved two from either side of this one to new locations.  They were gaining such height and width in this small area.  Most will grow up to 40″ high and 30″ wide.   So if you add one or more to your garden plant with it’s growth in mind.

   The Itoh is a cross between the Herbaceous and the Tree Peony.  It incorporates the best of both, but it does die back to the ground.  Both the Tree Peony and the Itoh Peony are more expensive than the standard Herbaceous; but you must agree they give you your monies worth in a beautiful flower.

Itoh Kopper Kettle

I have had great success growing these in even partial shade.  Often one plant will have as many as 20-25 buds that will bloom into various size flowers.  Most opening to 6″ or more.  They are great survivors of hard winters as well.  Most are good to Zone 4.

You will notice that the Tree Peony does not have that same round bud as the more popular Herbaceous peony.  It has a large more pointed shape.  Since they are on a hardwood, they also hold up better after a hard rain.  Often a good shake after a rain is needed just to open up the bloom petals that the rain cause to stick to one another.   With it’s stronger stem, the Itoh holds up much better to the rain as well.


Shimanishiki :  A semi double with red and white stripe.  You will notice some flowers come through with just red and others stripe.  It is very interesting to see what you will get from each bloom.  The colors are due to mutation, thus, no two are identical.

They make great cut flowers. However, You must cut the stem short on the Tree variety, so you avoid cutting next years bloom.  Cut only down the stem to where you see a newly forming node.  That is where the new bloom will develop for next year.  Since Itoh die back to the ground you need not worry about the length on these cuttings.  They last a good while in a vase with fresh water and will fill the room with an aroma you will never forget.  Oh yes, the plus…no ants to deal with in the flowers.  The photos are from last year (except the one of buds).  I will post photos on Foto-Friday when they bloom this year.

Naida Albin has photos of her Tree Peony to share.  I’ve attached them below:


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Expert pruning demonstration March 31

Both recent weather and the calendar say it is time to prune many fruit and ornamental trees, but local home orchardists may want to wait for more guidance, because MSU Extension district fruit educator Bob Tritten is scheduled to demonstrate at a local orchard March 31. There is no harm in waiting. In fact, the usual recommendation is to wait until early April to prune the more tender stone fruits like peaches. As the trees begin to come out of dormancy, they are more susceptible to a late spring cold snap.  Freshly cut branches are more susceptible, and in April it is easier to see which twigs have been injured by cold because they begin to dry out while the healthy ones remain smooth with swelling buds.

Mr. Tritten has trained professionals to prune, and has demonstrated home orchard pruning for large county audiences in previous years as well as at other sites in the region. The Monroe Conservation District and the Master Gardeners are sponsoring this Saturday morning event at the home of Jennie Stanger, 18918 McCarty Rd, Dundee. It will begin, rain or shine, at 9:30 am and cover the training of young trees as well as maintenance pruning of mature apples and peaches with tips on how and whether to renovate older trees.

Registration is not required but participants should dress for the weather and a donation of $5 is requested.

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Mature Bladdernut seed pod

The American bladdernut, Staphylea trifolia, is a large, suckering, deciduous shrub or small tree 8 -15 feet tall and native to the Eastern United States.  Bladdernut grows in the wooded bottomlands along the River Raisin and can tolerate a wide range of soils and conditions from dry to wet and part shade to full shade.  It prefers moist soil, tolerates occasional floods but can also tolerate drought.  I have one shrub planted in a dry, sandy, shaded area and another in clay soil which   floods and both perform well in these extreme conditions.  The blooms in April and May are clusters of small cream bell shaped flowers.   The trifoliate leaves are dark green and the bark is greenish brown with white cracks.  I find the inflated, three chamber bladder like fruit very interesting.   The papery capsules, normally 1-2” long, change from green to cream and mature to brown.  In the autumn the seeds within the bladder will rattle in wind. The American Bladdernut is an interesting shrub for the landscape especially in native plant gardens, shade gardens or in woodland areas.

American Bladdernut bark

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Jennie writes: I think I have finally found a place at our home for a sumac.  My farmer husband, working hard to keep our ditchbanks and drain tiles free of tree and shrub roots, does not appreciate “brush” as I do, so I needed to find a place where its suckering tendencies can be kept in check. In fact, a place where it is not likely to thrive but to struggle somewhat. Then I should be able to restrain its rapid growth as we have in the native row along the Extension parking lot, by severe pruning.  The photo shows why I want it.  The straight species’ fall colors tend to bright and deep reds, which would not show up against our barns, and they do not have such long, graceful “fronds” of such soft texture.  I do not want the yellow-leaved ‘Tiger Eye’ cultivar but the natural cutleaf mutation of staghorn that I understand was first found in Vermont. Along a barn-red machine shed the thick brown furry antler-like twigs won’t show up much in winter but the blazing yellow-green-orange fall color will, and in that hard clay, with a concrete foundation on one side and mowed tall fescue on the other, its rhizomes will be limited. Some summer day my granddaughters and I will make a cool, tart drink from the red seedheads as native Americans did.

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We are pleased to announce a new feature  that will be appearing on a regular basis as a series of photo essays.  Our new correspondent is a long time MG as well as being an accomplished photographer.  These two traits have been combined to give an interesting new perspective on what we routinely take for granted around our exhibition gardens.

“When most gardeners have cut their plants and stored their tools for winter,

the master gardener sees things differently”

The knowledge of the MG plus the keen eye of a photographer have focused in on some of the overlooked aspects of the unique plants we have.  Even common weeds take on a new face and have a beauty all of their own when viewed through the eyes of a MG!

When we photograph plants and flowers, the natural tendency is to want to capture as much of the scene as possible – often with a loss of detail.  The trained photographer has learned to block out the extraneous and concentate on capturing the unusual or striking feature of a subject that will tell a story.  Jennie,  Sue and I have all shot the gardens at various stages, but our focus was mainly on just recording a specimen as a whole  or a landscape vista.

To make my point, just consider how much more detail becomes apparent when a photo is cropped and all other extraneous detail is removed.  You have to look no further than the header photos Sue features in the blog.

You can do this in the field by careful composition,  planning and sharp focusing on the subject to minimize distracting backgrounds.

We hope you will enjoy this new take on the plants we have and that you might want to copy some of the same techniques in your own garden photography.

Unlike our Mystery Plant and What’s that Plant series – the correspondent will remain the mystery.  See if you can name the plants!

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Hamamelis virginiana

Flower of the American Witch Hazel

What shrub is blooming at this time of year?  It is Hamamelis virginiana or American witch hazel.   Blooming in October and November after the yellow Autumn leaves begin to drop, it is one of the last shrubs to flower.  The fragrant yellow flower petals look like crumpled shredded ribbon. Seed capsules take one year to mature and are expelled explosively from the capsule in the fall.  This is a deciduous multi-stemmed shrub or small tree that is an eastern North American native which normally grows 15-20’ tall but can reach 30’.  It grows in full sun to part shade at the edge of woodlands and prefers moist soil.   Pruning needs are minimal, normally to keep the shape, and if needed should be done early spring. This shrub is very adaptable to the home landscape.  Native Americans and early European settlers used the forked branch as a divining or witching rod to find underground sources of water.  The extract of leaves, twigs, and bark is use in astringent lotions.

  Go Native!

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Strangely enough, fall seems to be taking its sweet time in coming to our exhibition garden.  While most of the areas maples, sumacs and oaks are in full fall color, there are still a few of our deciduous plants that have yet to turn.  Jennie snapped a few photos  of some of these specimens and challenges you all to identify the plants and their location within the garden.

Fall Plant Quiz.

“these three native shrubs in the demo garden October 8, all have black fruits (reportedly edible but not tasty) and bright fall leaf colors.  They are not all located in the native shrub row.  Can you name them?”

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