Spring Blooming Landscape Plants

Spring Blooming Landscape Plants

Part of Ep. 302 It's Planting Time!

Visit with Ed Hasselkus, emertius professor of horticulture at UW-Madison, for a look at some of the spring-flowering trees and shrubs that can be planted in spring.

Premiere date: Apr 30, 1995

TRANSCRIPT+
Wisc Gardener Transcript: 

Shelley Ryan:

Beautiful, isn't it? We're at the UW-Madison Arboretum to look at some spring blooming landscape plants. I'm with Dr. Ed Hasselkus, Emeritus Professor of Horticulture and curator here at the Longenecker Gardens. Ed, you said we're going to look at some plants with all season interest. This is gorgeous right now. What is this?

 

Ed Hasselkus:

This is Manchu Cherry, prunus Tomentosa, one of the earliest blooming of the prunus, or flowering plums and cherries, before the leaves are even beginning to develop.

 

Shelley Ryan:

How hardy is it here in Wisconsin.

 

Ed Hasselkus:

Hardy anywhere in the state of Wisconsin.

 

Shelley Ryan:

Wonderful.

 

Ed Hasselkus:

It ultimately achieves a height of maybe five to eight feet.

 

Shelley Ryan:

You said earlier it was drought tolerant, as well.

 

Ed Hasselkus:

Very tolerant of drought, just so the soil is well drained.

 

Shelley Ryan:

We can put it just about anywhere. Sun or shade?

 

Ed Hasselkus:

Preferrably full sun, although a little bit of shade is okay.

 

Shelley Ryan:

You said this has interest more than just in spring. How so?

 

Ed Hasselkus:

In addition to the flowers, there are red fruits that taste like Door County cherries.

 

Shelley Ryan:

People can eat them?

 

Ed Hasselkus:

Yes, they're about a quarter the size though of the Door County variety, in about July. Then in winter, there is some bark interest, which isn't too easy to see just now. It's sort of mahogany bark, exfoliating and peeling.

 

Shelley Ryan:

The fruit interests me. Do I have to do anything special to get fruit?

 

Ed Hasselkus:

That's a good point. It is self-sterile, so you need more than one plant to assure fruit production.

 

Shelley Ryan:

At least two or three. These would be beautiful in the yard anyhow. I noticed you still have a cage on this one, why is that?

 

Ed Hasselkus:

The hardware cloth here is to protect it from rabbits. Generally speaking, prunus is very attractive to rabbits, so we leave this in place year round. Otherwise, the plant would be decimated.

 

Shelley Ryan:

So that bark that's attractive to us is in the winter is attractive to the bunnies.

 

Ed Hasselkus:

Right, too much.

 

Shelley Ryan:

Okay, what should we look at next?

 

Ed Hasselkus:

Let's look at a broadleaf evergreen.

 

Shelley Ryan:

This is a beautiful shrub. This is a rhododendron, right?

 

Ed Hasselkus:

Shelley, this is Madison Snow Rhododenron. It's actually selected and introduced by an amateur gardener here in Madison.

 

Shelley Ryan:

Wonderful.

 

Ed Hasselkus:

Of course, we always have to worry about hardiness. This one has fully hardy flower buds. Actually, the American Rhododendron Society rates rhododendrons and azaleas for hardiness. H-1 is the one we want for our area.

 

Shelley Ryan:

So, for most of Wisconsin, make sure you're getting an H-1 or you won't get flowers.

 

Ed Hasselkus:

That's correct.

 

Shelley Ryan:

You'll just get beautiful evergreen leaves.

 

Ed Hasselkus:

Yes.

 

Shelley Ryan:

Are we looking at the mature height of this?

 

Ed Hasselkus:

This is about a 20-year-old plant. I judge it to be about three feet in height, so a nice intermediate size shrub.

Shelley Ryan:

Do we have to worry about soil preparation?

 

Ed Hasselkus:

Yes, rhododenron and azaleas are acid soil requiring plants. The best way to achieve that is to mix peat moss into the soil at planting time, and granular sulfur. I'd suggest spreading about four inches of peat moss in the planting area, liberally sprinkle sulfur into that, and work that into the soil.

 

Shelley Ryan:

How deep?

 

Ed Hasselkus:

About a shovel's depth. They're fibrous rooted, very easily transplanted.

 

Shelley Ryan:

All right. Full sun or shade?

 

Ed Hasselkus:

We're in about half shade here. So let's say they're tolerant of half shade. Preferrably an eastern exposure, where they're not exposed to the hot afternoon sun.

 

Shelley Ryan:

And some of the tough winds in the winter, too. This is a nice scale for a small yard. You said we're also going to look at something a lot bigger.

 

Ed Hasselkus:

All right, Shelley.

 

Shelley Ryan:

This is a much more formal spring blooming shrub than any of the other ones we've seen today.

 

Ed Hasselkus:

Yes and it has this ascending upright branching habit. Shelley, this is Golden Glory Corneliancherry Dogwood.

 

Shelley Ryan:

It's beautiful, and it's massive.

 

Ed Hasselkus:

I'd say it's about 20 feet tall.

 

Shelley Ryan:

That's the mature height we're looking at?

 

Ed Hasselkus:

Yes, and this would be about the mature spread, as well. Obviously, the flowers are the major feature here. Early spring, usually along with forsythia. However it's one of these plants like the rhododendron, where in severe winters, the flower buds may be injured or killed. So, after 25 or 27 below, you may not have too many flowers to look at.

 

Shelley Ryan:

Okay, so maybe southern Wisconsin.

 

Ed Hasselkus:

Yes, that would be great. If flowers survive, we can look forward to edible fruits.

 

Shelley Ryan:

Edible for people?

 

Ed Hasselkus:

People and birds. In this case, the reason it's called Corneliancherry is that it has somewhat elongated, very bright red fruits. It's one of the few edible fruit-producing dogwoods.

 

Shelley Ryan:

At this height, I can share. The birds can have the upper half, and I get the lower branches.

 

Ed Hasselkus:

This cultivar, Golden Glory, is also selected on the basis of really dark green foliage. So all around, it's a wonderful plant, either sun or shade.

 

Shelley Ryan:

So it's tolerant of shade then?

 

Ed Hasselkus:

Yes.

 

Shelley Ryan:

Okay, great. Thanks, Ed. Longenecker Gardens houses one of the largest collections of ornamental landscape plants in the Midwest. If you're looking for ideas for your backyard, it's a great place to come and visit.

 

Shelley Ryan:

Trees and shrubs, like this flowering plum can handle a little cold weather. But be careful when planting flowers and vegetables. Ask your County Extension agent for the last average frost date in your area. Be sure to plant out tender annuals and perennials after that date. Even then, be on the lookout for late spring cold snaps. After all, this is Wisconsin. Thanks for joining me on the Wisconsin Gardener.

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