Monday, August 18, 2008

This picture is apropos of nothing...Just a house redone by HGTV's Curb Appeal

Actually it was two doors down from a consultation this week. The homeowners wanted help with an evergreen screen under deciduous trees. Boy that's one I've heard a lot. And there aren't that many choices. I'll go over them.

For tall (over 20') plants American Holly is the best, and a wonderful, choice. Unfortunately it is slow. Nellie Steven's Holly is a fast grower and prefers a sunny exposure, but will be okay in bright shade with a little sun. Japanese Cryptomeria also works well in bright shade, better with a little sun. It is fast growing. Use the cultivar 'Yoshino' as most others brown in the winter. Hemlocks used to be good so long as you had adequate moisture, but between adelgids, scale, and mites they are now a high maintenance plant.

Some large shrubs may be useful if the problem is not 2-story or higher. Camellias are great but, like the American Holly, so slow that they require time and patience. Mahonia japonica/bealii is a fun plant with yellow flowers in late winter followed by blue berries. A member of the Berberidaceae it is chemically deer proof and gets some nice red winter color. Agarista is a southern native hardy to USDA Zone 7. It is wide spreading and occasionally susceptible to winter burn but an attractive plant. Two useful if not beautiful or exciting plants are Manhattan Euonymous and Evergreen Privet, the latter a plant that probably ought never be planted again. It is invasive throughout the South. Viburnum rhytidophylliodes 'Allegheny' is fairly fast with interesting leaves but it is often not "opaque."

Three of these plants; Nellie Stevens Holly, Manhattan Euonymus, and the Evergreen Privet, can be pushed into extra growth by ensuring adequate water all summer and doing one or two extra fertilizations during the growing season. Don't try this with the other plants.

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