Tag Archives: serviceberry

Harbingers of Fall Finally Show up

Tiger eyes sumac takes center stage with its fiery orange display. Eventually, this little treasure will grow five to six feet high.

Tiger eyes sumac takes center stage with its fiery orange display. Eventually, this little treasure will grow five to six feet high.

Normally, fall lasts about two weeks in Colorado.  We go from the heat of summer in August to freezing temperatures in September and October.

This year, however, is different, and the foliage is taking its time to put on its annual autumn show.

I’m seeing hints of the beauty to come, though.

Autumn brilliance serviceberry is gradually turning red against the backdrop of my neighbor's yellow honeylocust.

Autumn brilliance serviceberry is gradually turning red against the backdrop of my neighbor’s yellow honeylocust.

My tiger eyes sumac (Rhus typhina ‘Bailtiger’), for example, has been gracing my front yard like a burst of fire  for the past two or three weeks.  This little gem is currently only 29 inches tall, but just imagine what it will look like when it grows up.

And my Autumn Brilliance serviceberry (Amelanchier x grandiflora ‘Autumn Brilliance’) is beginning to turn its trademark red-orange color.  Eventually, this tree will grow 15 to 25 feet tall and 15 to 20 feet wide.  It may take 15 years or so, however, because serviceberry is a slow grower.

Sweet potato vine does double duty--first as a backdrop for my flowering container annuals and then as a nest for an autumn pumpkin.

Sweet potato vine does double duty–first as a backdrop for my flowering container annuals and then as a nest for an autumn pumpkin.

My flowering container annuals have bitten the dust, so the sweet potato vine (Ipomoea batatas) that normally serves as the backdrop for those blossoms now has been converted to a nest for a fall pumpkin.  The vine’s gorgeous lime-green leaves make this darling a versatile companion for all kinds of plants.

Before long, my Pawnee Buttes sandcherry (Prunus besseyi ‘Pawnee Buttes’) grouncover will turn bright red, and my Regent serviceberry (Amelanchier alnifolia ‘Regent’) will transform itself with its rich golden hues.

Happy Autumn!

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Filed under Landscape Design, Plant Geekiness

Want to Move Your Plants Without Killing Them? Try Trenching

Plants stand, mulched in their trench, until their move to a permanent home.  Identifiable tenants (from front) include autumn brilliance serviceberry, Cheyenne mockorange, Genista lydia and Isanti dogwood.

Plants stand, mulched in their trench, until their move to a permanent home. Identifiable tenants (from front) include autumn brilliance serviceberry, Cheyenne mockorange, Genista lydia and Isanti dogwood.

Have you ever turned down a friend’s offer of free plants because you didn’t know where to plant them? Or have you missed an opportunity to move plants from one home to another because you didn’t know how to care for them? If those occasions arise again, consider parking your trees, shrubs and perennials in a temporary trench. That way, you can keep them alive while you prepare a more permanent location for them.

I recently sold my Denver home to a developer. It’s not something I wanted to do, but because my house had severe mold issues and was sitting on valuable land, selling the house for a scrape was the most sensible option.

Fortunately, the builder told me that I could take all of the landscape plants with me. That, of course, wasn’t feasible. So I gave many of the plants away to neighbors so my babies could live on in the neighborhood. There were quite a few plants, though, that I took with me—stalwarts, such as Genista lydia, Isanti dogwood, serviceberry and Cheyenne mockorange.

I moved the plants temporarily to my sister’s home in Windsor, CO in late February, which is just about the worst possible time to move plants. I dug a trench about 1 foot wide, 25 feet long and 5 inches deep. The ground was frozen, so the clay soil came up in massive, solid chunks. I then placed the plants in the ground, preserving their root balls as best I could, and replaced the soil chunks, piling them around the root balls. Needless to say, there were all kinds of air pockets around the roots—not a good situation. But as the weather improved and the soil softened, I began filling in the air pockets.

It’s now late March, and the plants are starting to bud out and behave normally.

Shade-loving Corydalis ophiocarpa stays alive and even puts on new growth in the sunny trench.

Shade-loving Corydalis ophiocarpa stays alive and even puts on new growth in the sunny trench.

Is this a good long-term situation for the plants? Absolutely not. But for the 2 ½ months until I move to my own place and transplant them, they should be fine. Even my corydalis, which prefers shade, is hanging in there, putting on new growth in the sunny trench. I planted my ground covers in an area of the trench that’s about an inch below grade to help them retain water in Windsor’s dry, windy climate.

I water the plants every other day. It’s a good idea to keep them mulched for water conservation, weed prevention and soil temperature moderation. Dig your trench a foot or so deep, if the soil’s not too hard, to provide maximum room for roots. And try to move your plants when they’re not in bloom, so they can focus on growing roots instead of producing flowers.

Tiny red leaflets emerge from stems of the fire meidiland ground cover rose.

Tiny red leaflets emerge from stems of the fire meidiland ground cover rose.

The next time someone offers you plants or you move to a new home, don’t leave beloved plants on the table simply because you don’t have the perfect spot for them yet. Dig a trench to create a small parking lot. Chances are, your plants won’t mind, as long as they don’t have to stay there for more than about 3 months.

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Filed under Garden Maintenance, Plant Geekiness