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The Beauty of Spring: Flowering Crabs

The beauty of spring: Flowering Crabs

For many gardeners the first couple weeks of May are their favorite time of the year.  Tulips, daffodils, bluebells, rhododendrons, creeping phlox and other flowers are in full bloom. To top off the spring glory, flowering crabs and other spring blooming trees are in full array.

Flowering crabs are a great addition to any yard.  They are hardy and easy to grow. Blooms range in color from white to pink to reds and sizes vary from 8’ to 30’.

Now is a good time to purchase and plant a flowering crab as you will be able to see bloom colors at the nursery.

New varieties of crabs have been chosen so that they have no berries or very small berries. In addition, they are resistant to a fungus (cedar apple rust) that would cause older varieties to lose their leaves by July.  New varieties also come in dwarf sizes for the homeowner with limited space.

Here are some of our favorite varieties of flowering crabs:

Prairie Fire: (probably our best seller) – blooms are deep pink/red, grow 15-20’, small berries birds will mostly clean

Spring Snow: White blooms, no berries, grow 25-30’

Rejoice: Semi double rose pink blooms, grow upright 15-20’, small berries birds will mostly clean

Royal Raindrops: Leaves are burgundy, flowers deep pink, grow to 20’, small berries birds will mostly clean

Camelot:  Dwarf, grow 10’, Buds red changing to pink and then fade to white, blooms follow entire length of branches, small berries birds will mostly clean

Golden Raindrops: White blooms, tiny golden yellow fruit (1/4”), grows upright (20’), vase shaped

Showtime: Large bright fuschia pink showy flowers in the spring, dark green foliage with a red overlay, grows 15-20’

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WHAT WE RECOMMEND: SPRING FLOWERING TREES

EARLY SPRING BLOOMERS

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SHRUBS FOR SMALL SPACES

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SHRUBS FOR SMALL SPACES

Most gardeners have made the mistake of planting something that gets too large for its space.  Before planting anything check out how tall and wide the plant you picked will get.

(GET our guide to CHOOSING THE RIGHT PLANT HERE)

Once you’ve determined how big your space is, and that you need a smaller plant, look for new smaller varieties of old favorites.

Many of the old favorite varieties of plants have been hybridized into dwarf versions.  We can help you pick the right plant for your space. Here are some of our favorite dwarf shrubs:

Hetz Midget Arborvitae – dwarf globe evergreen that grows 2-3’ tall

Danica Arborvitae- dwarf globe evergreen that grows 2-3’ tall

Holmstrup Arborvitae – upright evergreen that grows 4-5’ tall

Dwarf Barberries – multiple varieties that grow 1 ½-2’ tall – some include Concord, Pygmy, Golden Nugget, Golden Ruby, Pygmy Ruby

Buckthorn Fineline  - grows 2-3’ wide, 5-7’ tall

Hydrangeas – some new dwarf varieties include Bobo, Endless Summer Bloomstruck, Little Lime, and Hamptons

Junipers- Blue chip, Blue Star

Ninebark – Little Devil   Grows 3-4’ high and wide

Blue Shag Pine – Makes a mound 3-4’ tall

Potentilla – Mango Tango, Gold Star  (grow about 2’ tall)

Rhododendron Ramapo – Same lavender flowers, grows 2’ tall

Roses – Multiple varieties of Easy Elegance Roses : Coral Cove, Kashmir, Paint the Town, Flower Carpet varieties, Nearly Wild

Spireas – Multiple new dwarf varieties including Birchleaf, Dakota Goldcharm, Little Princess,

Spruce – Birds Nest, Dwarf Norway

Viburnum – Opulus Nanum (grows 2’), Bailey Compact (grows 5-6’)

Weigela – Minuet (grows 2-3’), Dark Horse (grows 3’)

PLANTING TO ATTRACT BIRDS

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There is nothing more delightful than seeing the spring and fall migration of birds, a robin’s nest with blue eggs, the bright yellow color of goldfinch, or the bright blue of an indigo bunting.

There are some things you can do to attract these beautiful birds to your yard.

Birds have 3 basic needs to survive – habitat, food, and water. With farm fields becoming bigger and bigger it is more important than ever that farmsteads, farm windbreaks, and urban homes provide these basic needs.  No matter where they are, any trees, shrubs, or perennials that you plant are good for birds. Adding a source of water is also helpful to attract birds.  

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Evergreens are especially important for winter habitat. Eastern Red Cedars are native to Iowa. Many other evergreens such as junipers and yews also provide habitat and berries for winter food.

All shade trees provide habitat and shelter. Many of the smaller ornamental trees are excellent sources of berries. During the fall migration cedar wax wings especially like berries from serviceberries. Other ornamental trees that provide berries include crabapples, hawthorns, mountain ash, and fruit trees –especially cherries.

There are many shrubs that also provide berries. Some of these include viburnum, dogwood, elderberry, coralberry, aronia, and cotoneaster.  There are many varieties of viburnums. One of our favorites is called “Blue Muffin”. These grow about 5-7 feet tall and have beautiful clusters of bright blue berries. Aronia (Chokeberry) produce an edible berry which is considered an antioxidant. These can be harvested and made into jams and other products if you can beat the birds to the berries.

Perennials can also provide habitat and food sources. Hummingbirds,  warblers and other varieties of birds enjoy both blossoms and seeds. Planting natives is always a good idea.

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Anything you plant will encourage birds to your yard. Add a water source and your yard will become a favorite stopping spot for them.  As always, be mindful of sprays, pesticides, and herbicides and avoid these as much as possible

TOP 10 REASONS TO PLANT A TREE

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Top 10 Reasons to Plant a Tree:

1.   Trees combat climate change by absorbing carbon dioxide.

2.   In one year an acre of mature trees can provide enough oxygen for 18 people.

3.   Trees clean the air by absorbing odors and pollutant gases.

4.   Trees provide shade to cool homes and streets. Trees can cut summer air conditioning needs by 50%.

5.   Trees reduce heating bills by slowing harsh winter winds.

6.   Shade trees reduce the amount of water needed for lawns and other plants.

7.   Trees help prevent soil erosion and pollution of water in streams and lakes by reducing run-off.

8.   Trees provide food for humans and wildlife.

9.   Trees provide shelter for birds and other wildlife.

10.  Studies have shown that trees in yards and parks provide a sense of well-being and help reduce stress.

What will you do this year to protect the planet?

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