Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

October 28, 2013

PLATEAU GARDENING: Plant suggestions for your landscape

By C. Rae Hozer
Chronicle contributor

CROSSVILLE — The nurseryman who identified the Japanese cedar (Cryptomeria japonica) in photos from new property owners who wanted to establish a privacy screen suggested they use shorter conifers (perhaps dwarf cryptomeria) at staggered intervals in two adjacent rows at the back of their lot. After two or three years, the plants would be tall enough and sufficiently dense to block views straight-on as well as those from various angles. A double row arrangement allows room for growth without overcrowding.

If space is an issue because there isn’t enough depth behind the house for more than a single row of plants or if the homeowners want privacy immediately, other alternatives would be a fence on the lot line with narrow, columnar-shaped plantings in front and/or vines trained to grow up that structure.

In the Mark Viette YouTube video cited last week, two evergreens for privacy screens are mentioned: Gold Rider Leyland Cypress, which after 10 years will be 10 feet by 10 feet and a dwarf Japanese yew called Bright Gold (Taxus feet tall by six feet wide. Huber’s Tawny Gold (Taxus x media "Huber’s Tawny Gold") is a spreading yew introduced in 2013 that also has gold needles and tops out at three to four feet tall with a spread of five to six feet. Suggested landscape uses for Huber’s Tawny Gold yew in the plant catalog at www.Monrovia.com are in a border, hedge, mass planting and woodland garden. While yews are usually good in shade, those with gold foliage will have better color with more sun. Good soil drainage is essential for these Taxus selections.

Those desiring a wall of plants that can act as a physical barrier as well as a screen often include thorny specimens like barberries. I agreed with the Proven Winners webpage statement, “Barberries are low-maintenance, deer-resistant shrubs, but they’re not all that thrilling.” However, the 2013 Sunjoy super-colorful barberry varieties described after that left no doubt there was not a ho-hum, ordinary barberry in the group. (View http://www.provenwinners.com/learn/miscellaneous/star-born-shrubs.)

My favorite 2013 selections were Sunjoy Citrus Berberis thunbergii "Koren" and Sunjoy Syrah Berberis thunbergii "Helen," but it was an earlier release, Sunjoy Gold Pillar Berberis thunbergii "Maria" that really knocked my socks off. The first two barberries share the same hardiness (zones 4a-8b), deer resistance, heat tolerance and need for good drainage. Sunjoy Citrus has bright yellow foliage that won’t sunburn like other yellow Berberis. A rounded growth habit keeps it ball-shaped with no pruning. Garden height and spread is three feet. Best in full sun. Use in hedges, shrub borders, and foundation plantings. Sunjoy Syrah is larger (five feet by five feet) with an upright habit. The purple foliage is so dark it looks almost black. Sunjoy Gold Pillar is mid-sized (three to four feet tall and two feet wide) with graceful vertical lines. New foliage is red. Leaves mature to a bright summertime gold and in fall turn a breath-taking red-orange.

Timely Education Opportunity: The Upper Cumberland region has had frosty nights and leaves are falling. These are two signs the time is right for transplanting woody perennials. Attend the last Plateau Discovery Gardens class scheduled for 2013 — "Planting Trees and Shrubs." Learn where and how to plant greenery that will beautify your home landscape. This talk will be at the University of Tennessee Plateau Research and Education Center (320 Experiment Station Rd., Crossville, TN 38571) on Tuesday, Nov. 5, from 1 to 3 p.m. Call 484-0034 to reserve your seat.

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Plateau Gardening is written by Master Gardeners for gardeners in Tennessee’s Upper Cumberland Region.  Contact UT Extension Cumberland County at P.O. Box 483, Crossville, TN 38557 (484-6743) for answers to horticulture questions, free publications and how to become a Master Gardener. Send email comments or yard and garden inquiries to Master Gardener Rae, MGardenerRae@frontiernet.net.