Amelanchier arborea – nice shrub for garden landscaping

Amelanchier arborea

A North American native, is a large shrub or small tree that adds beauty to your landscape season after season. Fragrant white flowers appear in spring, along with the first leaf buds. Small edible purple-black fruits, favourites of birds, ripen in summer. The berries can be used for pies and jams. In the fall, the foliage is brilliant orange, yellow, or red. Silvery grey bark provides winter interest. 

Common name: Downy serviceberry, juneberry, shadbush

Botanical name: Amelanchier arborea

Plant type: large shrub or small tree

Zones: 4 to 9

Height: 15 to 25 feet

Family: Rosacae 

Growing conditions 

Sun: Full sun to part shade. In the wild it’s usually an understory tree, growing in the partial shade of larger trees.

Soil: Best in well-drained, slightly acidic loam; tolerates clay and sand.

Moisture: Prefers moist but tolerates dry or occasionally wet soil.

Care

Pruning: Suckers freely from base and will form a dense shrub if not pruned. Can be pruned to form a small tree. Annual pruning is suggested. 

Fertiliser: Don’t fertilise the first year after planting. After that, use organic fertiliser once a year.

Mulch: Add 2 to 4 inches of organic mulch to retain moisture and deter weeds. Leave a space between stems and mulch.

Propagation

By seed: Remove seeds from ripe fruit. Seeds planted in fall should sprout in spring. Germination less than 50 percent.

By suckers: dig suckers that are 2 to 3 years old and root them in a pot. If roots are already formed, plant directly in ground. 

By cuttings. 

Pests and diseases

Occasional problems with rust, fungal leaf spots, fire blight, leaf blight, black mildew, and powdery mildew

Occasional pests: cambium and leaf miners, pear sawfly, borers, spider mites, aphids, and scale

Garden notes

Grow as a small tree or large shrub in part shade or in woodland gardens.

Birds eat the purple-black fruit; people can too, if they get there before the birds.

Cultivars

No known cultivars.

All in the family

There are many varieties of Amelanchier—some so similar that identification can be difficult. Among the most common are A. alnifolia (Saskatoon serviceberry), A. x grandiflora (apple serviceberry, a cross between A. arborea and A. laevis), A. laevis(Allegheny serviceberry) and A. stolonifera (running serviceberry). Several cultivars of A. x grandiflora are available, including ‘Autumn Brilliance’, ‘Princess Diana’, and ‘Robin Hill’.

Franklinia – nice for garden landscaping

Franklinia

Franklinia is a lovely small tree with a fascinating history. Originally discovered in Georgia in 1765 by botanist John Bartram, it disappeared from the wild less than 50 years later. Fortunately, Bartram had collected seeds and propagated plants, so we still have the species today. Franklinia sports lustrous dark green leaves on upright-spreading branches.

One of this tree’s best features is its pure white, golden-stamened, 3-inch-wide flowers that appear in late summer. Often a few late flowers remain when the foliage turns beautiful shades of red and orange in the fall. Though somewhat demanding in its cultural requirements, Franklinia is worth seeking out for its ornamental qualities.

Plant Facts

Common name: Franklinia, or Franklin tree

Botanical name: Franklinia alatamaha

Plant type: Small deciduous tree

Zones: 6 to 9

Height: 10 to 20 feet

Family: Theaceae, tea family

Growing conditions

  • Sun: Full sun or partial shade
  • Soil: Moist, well-drained, acidic soil with lots of organic matter. In sandy or clay soils, work in compost, aged manure, or peat moss before planting.
  • Moisture: Keep soil evenly moist but not soggy.

Care

  • Mulch: Apply 2 to 4 inches of organic mulch such as wood chips, shredded leaves, or pine needles.
  • Pruning: Remove broken, dead, or rubbing branches and those that detract from the tree’s form.
  • Fertiliser: Apply a balanced fertiliser once a year.

Propagation

  • Plants are available in containers or balled and burlapped.
  • Seeds must be fresh to germinate well. Plant them immediately when the seed capsules ripen, which occurs almost a year after flowering.

Pests and diseases

  • Susceptible to a Phytophthora root rot, especially in poorly drained soil.
  • Japanese beetles are fond of the flower buds.

Garden notes

  • Franklinia was named in honour of Benjamin Franklin, a close friend of botanist John Bartram.
  • Plant Franklinia with other acid-loving native plants, such as Florida azalea (Rhododendron austrinum), flame azalea (R. calendulaceum), and mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia).
  • For a fun family grouping, combine Franklinia with its relatives Camellia and Stewartia. Note the family resemblance in the flowers of all three.
  • All in the family
  • This is the only species in the genus Franklinia.
  • The most widely grown member of this family is Camellia sinensis, the tea plant, which is widely cultivated for its fragrant leaves.
  • Other landscape ornamentals in the tea family include Camellia, Stewartia, Ternstroemia, and Cleyera.

Best Fruits for a beautiful garden blueprint

Best Fruits

When people decide to grow fruit, they usually think first of the apple. They’re often surprised to learn that apples are not native to North America—and neither are pears, peaches, cherries, and most other familiar market fruit. These fruits reflect a European heritage. They were brought over by the colonists, and have been improved through many centuries of breeding and selection.

There’s another type of fruit to consider for your home orchard: native fruits. These are fruits that originated here and can be found in the wild. Some of the species have been bred for cultivation, resulting in plants that are easier to grow in the home garden and produce reliably delicious fruit. 

Reasons to plant native fruits are much the same as for planting wildflowers and other natives. Natives are often better adapted than exotics and experience fewer pest problems. They can help support native ecosystems. And there’s one more reason: dessert!

The pantry: native fruits for cooking

Before people came to rely so heavily on buying food at the marketplace, many native fruits were very popular. If they weren’t palatable fresh off the bush, they were cooked and made into jams, jellies, pies, or sauces.

Elderberries (Sambucus canadensis, Zones 4 to 9), for instance, were popular in pies, jams, and wine; people ate both the flowers and the purple-black fruits. The shrubs grow 12 feet tall and wide.

Oregon grapeholly (Mahonia aquifolium, Zones 6 to 9) is most often planted as an ornamental for its holly-like evergreen leaves and foaming clusters of yellow flowers. In autumn, the bushes bear dark blue berries that make a nice jam or jelly.

Another ornamental native is clove currant (Ribes odoratum, Zones 4 to 8). This shrub was once planted near doorways so the intense, sweet, spicy aroma from its red-tipped yellow flowers would waft indoors. Those flowers are followed in summer by black berries up to ½ inch across that have a resiny, sweet-tart flavor.

Highbush cranberry (Viburnum trilobum, Zones 2 to 7) is a good stand-in for American cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon, Zones 2 to 6), the familiar cranberry we eat at Thanksgiving. Highbush cranberry tastes and looks very much like American cranberry, but doesn’t need its specialized soil conditions. That said, if you have acidic soil that’s high in humus and stays moist, or if you’re willing to amend a small area with peat moss and sulfur and keep it watered, you can grow American cranberry. American cranberry is borne on a creeping plant with evergreen leaves—edible ground cover, anyone?

As long as you’re creating those special soil conditions, you could also plant lingonberry (Vaccinium vitis-idaea, Zones 2 to 6). Although swooned over by Scandinavians, lingonberry is actually native to much of the Northern Hemisphere. It thrives best in cooler climates. Thepea-sized fruit tastes something like cranberry with less tartness and a tad more sweetness. It’s tasty straight from the plant or cooked into sauces or jams. With evergreen leaves resembling those of boxwood, and a spreading growth habit, the 6-inch-tall plants create an attractive edible ground cover.

            

The dessert tray: native fruits for eating fresh

The aforementioned native fruits make great jams, relishes, and the like, but some native plants bear what the British call “dessert fruits”—that is, fruits that are delectable plucked right off the plants. They’re also tasty cooked into jams or pies. These fruits are what I’d call the crème de la crème of native fruits.

The blueberry is the greatest native-fruit success story. Deliberate, widespread cultivation of this fruit began only in the last 100 years. That’s probably because the plant has specific soil requirements (very similar to those of the Thanksgiving cranberry). Still, with a little peat, sulfur, organic mulch, and sufficient water, blueberries can grow almost anywhere. (These conditions are very similar to those under which rhododendron, azalea, pieris, and other blueberry relatives thrive.)

When planting blueberries, you’ll need to choose between highbush, lowbush, and rabbiteye blueberries. Rabbiteye (Vaccinium asheii, Zones 5 to 9) varieties are adapted to warmer regions and grow into large, 15-foot-tall bushes. Lowbush blueberries (V. angustifolium, Zones 2 to 8) are attractive, cold-hardy plants that grow only 1 or 2 feet tall and spread by underground stems. Highbush varieties (V. corymbosum, Zones 3 to 7) are adapted to a greater range of climates.The fruits, which are the ones you see fresh on market shelves, grow on bushes 6 to 8 feet tall. So-called “half-highs” are highbush-lowbush hybrids developed mostly for colder regions.

You’ll enjoy looking at your blueberry plants as well as eating their fruits. In spring, the bushes are draped with clusters of small, white, urn-shaped blossoms. The foliage looks healthy all season long, then turns a fiery red in autumn. Stems take on a reddish cast in winter.

To get the fruit, though, you’ll have to foil the birds. The best way to thwart them is to net the bushes, and the best way to net the bushes is to build a walk-in cage around them. This cage needn’t be an eyesore. Picture a rustic enclosure of locust or cedar, for example.

Juneberry (Amelanchier spp., Zones 3 to 9, depending on species), also known as shadbush and serviceberry, is similar to blueberry in appearance yet quite different in flavor. The berries have sweetness and richness similar to sweet cherries, with a hint of almond. The plants, which range from subshrubs to shrubs to small trees, are frequently grown as ornamentals for their white or pink flowers, their red-orange fall color, their attractive bark, and their neat growth habit. In addition to offering good looks and great-tasting fruit, juneberry trees require little pruning, though the shrubs do need the oldest wood periodically cut to the ground to make way for young wood.

The American persimmon (Diospyros virginiana, Zones 4 to 9) is native throughout the eastern United States as far north as Pennsylvania, but it can grow and bear fruit over a much wider range. This tree is truly carefree, generally requiring no pruning or insect control. Even deer are not particularly fond of persimmon wood or leaves.

It lacks flamboyant flowers, but its foliage is striking. The drooping, slightly bluish leaves stay clean and fresh-looking throughout the season and sometimes turn hickory yellow in fall. This fruit differs from the more familiar Asian persimmon in being smaller (about golfball-sized), drier, and richer. It’s something like a dried apricot that has been soaked in water, dipped in honey, then sprinkled with a dash of spice.

For the best-tasting American persimmons, don’t plant just any wild or seedling tree. Instead, plant one of the more than two dozen named varieties of this fruit. Wild trees have either male or female flowers, and only the females bear fruit, but if you plant a self-fruitful variety such as ‘Garretson’, ‘Szukis’, or ‘Mohler’, you don’t need a separate male pollinator tree. Another advantage of ‘Szukis’ and ‘Mohler’ is that their fruit ripens early, which is an important consideration in the colder limits of the persimmon’s range. Few fruits taste worse than an unripe persimmon.

Though the native pawpaw (Asimina triloba, Zones 4 to 9) grows in about the same geographic range as the American persimmon, it seems to have tropical aspirations. The pyramidal tree sports leaves that are large and lush, similar to those of avocado. In autumn they turn a beautiful, clear yellow.

The fruits, which look like mangos, are borne singly or in clusters like bananas. For the best-tasting fruit as soon as possible, plant two grafted trees of different varieties for cross-pollination. Both varieties will bear fruit.

Pawpaw flesh is creamy and pale yellow. It tastes like a combination of vanilla custard, banana, mango, avocado, and pineapple. (Those tropical aspirations again!) I describe it as tasting something like crème brulée without the fat and sugar.