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Plants for Small Spaces- Part 2

January 27, 2009

It seems kind of strange to write this today, with a mix of snow and sleet piling up outside. I’m in the midst of planting plans this week, though, and I’m just having too much fun picking out plants not to share.

Last time, I talked about shrubs. Trees are important too. Even if you’re limited in terms of space, there are some great varieties that grow slowly, have a compact mature form, and add beauty to the landscape. The first one is an upright Japanese Maple called ‘Tobiosho’ (Acer palmatum ‘Tobiosho’).

Acer palmatum 'Tobiosho'

Acer palmatum 'Tobiosho'

This tree has a beautiful, soft green color through the growing season. In the fall, it lights up with a brilliant red. It’s hardy to USDA Zone 5, and at 10 years old it will be in the 6 to 10 foot tall range.

Another great tree for small spaces is called Japanese Snowbells (Styrax japonica).

Styrax Japonica

Styrax Japonica

The Japanese Snowbell is hardy in USDA Zones 5-8. Its eventual size is 20 to 30 feet tall, with a comparable canopy spread. While this isn’t exactly tiny, it’s still a perfect size for a small lot. In the spring, the tree is covered in hanging white clusters of flowers- thus the name. It’s become a sort of go-to tree for me, because I deal with a lot of small spaces in my landscape design work (especially in northern Virginia), and it’s pretty close to bulletproof. There aren’t any insect or disease problems that plague the Styrax, and as long as you amend the planting hole and allow for drainage, you’ll have a happy, healthy tree.

As a plant geek, this series of posts is a lot of fun for me. With spring coming up I’ll be doing some visits to a few of my growers around the state. Hopefully as I add to my list of plants for small spaces in Virginia, I can share some photos from the wholesale growers who keep the industry going.

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