Vail Landscape Logic column: Six hardy trees for small spaces
Plant Select has three small deciduous trees suitable for tough sites, plus three conifers that are great at altitude and also squeeze into tight spaces. Because these plants are available through Plant Select, they a have been vetted as survivors in Colorado’s tough growing conditions. They’re up to the challenge and might be something to consider for your landscape.
• Hot Wings maple (Acer tataricum “GarAnn”) grows to be 5 to 18 feet tall by 15 to 18 feet wide and can be cultured in full to partial sun and moderate to dry conditions in most soils and U.S. Department of Agriculture Zones 4-10. This tree is good for pollinators and has bright crimson-red seedpods from mid-June through much of summer, giving the appearance of being “in bloom” nearly all season long. It’s well adapted to our alkaline soils and fluctuating temperatures.
• Russian hawthorn (Crataegus ambigua) grows to be 16 to 20 feet tall by 12 to 16 feet wide and can be cultured in full to partial sun and dry to xeric (no additional irrigation needed once established, usually two to three years) conditions in most soils, USDA Zones 4-9. This somewhat informal small tree is good for pollinators, deer resistant and offers gorgeous bark, ferny foliage and white flowers in spring, followed by dark-red fruit and golden fall color.
• Seven-son-flower (Heptacodium miconioides) grows to be 18 to 25 feet tall by 10 to 15 feet wide and can be cultured in full to partial sun in moderate to dry conditions in most soils, USDA Zones 5-9. This tree is good for pollinators and is a “late bloomer” that begins flowering at the very end of summer, offering rich nectar to bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. As the flowers fade, the bracts surrounding them deepen to a rosy-pink color, offering interest into fall.
• Woodward columnar juniper (Juniperus scopulorum “Woodward”) grows to be 20 feet tall by 4 feet wide; full sun is best in moderate to xeric conditions in most soils, USDA Zones 3-9. A super-narrow selection of our Western Rocky Mountain juniper, Woodward is deer resistant and offers lots of height with a small footprint. It’s one of the best columnar junipers, as it easily sheds snow loads without losing form.
• Weeping white spruce (Picea glauca “Pendula”) grows to be 20 to 24 feet tall and 4 to 6 feet wide and can be cultured in full to partial sun in moderate to dry conditions in well-draining soils, USDA Zones 3-8. This graceful form of white spruce grows rather quickly once established and offers a layered, narrow evergreen focal point. Snow loads are easily shed, as the branches hang downward, unlike most other upright evergreens.
• Dwarf pinyon pine (Pinus edulis selections, Pinus monophylla “Blue Jazz”) grows to be 24 to 30 inches tall by 24 to 30 inches wide and can be cultivated in full sun in dry to xeric conditions in well-draining soils, USDA Zones 4-7. For really small spaces, these tough miniature pinyon pines are deer resistant and can fit just about anywhere, growing only 1 to 2 inches per year.
There are several selections of native dwarf pinyon pines available from specialty and rock garden growers, including Farmy, Trinidad and Blue Jazz. They’re best used in rock gardens, permanent containers or small space gardens.
Becky Garber is a member of the Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado, of which Neils Lunceford, a landscaping company, is a member. You may contact them at 970-468-0340.