Gardening for wildlife - help!

Carroll Shearer c_shearer at ACAD.FANDM.EDU
Mon Sep 9 16:41:00 EST 1996

I would like to comment on the ideas of Ross and then add a few comment of
my own.
Female Ginkgo trees near any building can be a complete disaster unless you
like the smell of cat residue for a few months in the fall.  The fruit has
a terrible odor when ripe and will be tracked into nearby buildings by foot
traffic and around other areas of campus by mowing vehicles. Do not plant
this plant near any buildings and it should be restricted to remote
outlying areas.  Even then, the neighbors will complain about the smell.
Few nurseries, if any will carry the female Ginkgo.
Dawn Redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides) is an interesting tree and has
an interesting history but why not get Bald Cypress (Taxodium distichum).
It grows well in normal soil as well as wet areas.  Knees are only produced
in very wet area locations.  They can be planted far north of its natural
range.  Bald cypress can be planted in a smaller site as it does not become
as wide branching as the Dawn Redwood.  Both plants have similar leaves and
it would be interesting to examine the leaf structures of both.
It is unclear which Red Pine is to be planted. Pinus resinosa is the native
pine which grows well in northern areas. It does well in dry and extremely
cold areas but is not salt tolerant.  Hot summer create stress for this
plant.  Pinus densiflora is the Japanes Red Pine which has several
interesting cultivars including dwarf forms.  Both are often irregular in
shape and can quickly die if under summer heat stress.
A group of Magnolias to consider for lateer bloom is th group called 'The
Little Girl Hybrids'.  They are a cross between M. liliiflora 'Nigra' and
M. stellata 'Rosea'.  This group of Magnolias blooms after the Saucer
Magnolias (M. x soulangiana) and will often bloom sporadically throughout
the summer.  They are also smaller than The Saucer Magnolias and can be
planted in smaller sites.  The cultivar names are:  'Ann', 'Betty', 'Jane',
'Judy', 'Pinkie', 'Randy', 'Ricki', 'Susan'.  All are various shades of
purple and reddish purple and often difficult to tell apart.
Redosier Dogwood (Cornus sericea formerly called C. stolonifera) can also
be used for stained cross-sections.  The dogwood is a native and the fruits
are a food sourde for birds.  Both can be pruned in the same manner as
described in Ross's note or all stems can be cut to about 6 inches frome
the ground every 5 years.  Cut the dogwood in the early spring and the
Forsythia just after it blooms.  Both will branch out nicely the first
growing season.
It has been my experience that the varieties of Juniperus horizontalis of
whichBlue Rug is one of the cultivars make poor ground covers for shady
areas.  Phomopsis blight would be a serious threat to these shaded plants.
Also spider mite can be a big problem whenthese plants are under stress.
Hawthorns and low branching trees should be used with extreme caution in
the campus setting due to the safety hazards they pose.  Errant frisbee
players can easily damage an eye if these plants are sited  incorrectly.
We have had very few problems with evergreen trees becoming dorm Christmas
trees.  Evergreen are best planted in the spring as fall planting may not
allow the roots of three to develop properly until the ground freezes.
The Rugosa Rose (Rosa rugosa) is avery interesting plant with multi season
interest.  The fruit is sometimes eaten by wildlife the flowers are
fragrant and dense thickets can form to guide pedestrian traffic.  These
plants are very spiny and not a joy to work with.  They also tend to be
quite stoloniferous and will invade the rest of the garden.  These plants
aare best used if all sidesof the plantingare surrounded by sidewalk or
other barrier.
Grasses can be quite attractive if planted correctly.  Full sun is a must
for most ornamental grasses and the proper combination in the right setting
can be qite stunning.
Eqisetum arvense (Field Horse-tail) can be an extremely invasive weed that
is difficult to control once established.  Grow within a barrier if at all.
It is also toxic to horses if it gets into hay fields.
Meidiland roses are very tough plants but are considered garbage can plants
in that they collect all the flying debris and leaves that fly by.
Groundskeepers will not enjoy picking stuff out of this plant year round.
The plants are quite thorny.
Bamboo is best used at the fringes of campus as most of them tend to be
stoloniferous.  They often look ratty in the winter.  Plant them where they
can be completly mowed around or provide a physical barrier so the roots do
not travel.
Pruning with hand pruners is the best way to go, if possible.  Electric
pruners are faster do not do as good a job. Economics will dictate which
method will be employed.
Plants to consider for wildlife that were not mentioned include:
Ilex verticillata  Winterberry
Ilex opaca  American Holly
Viburnum prunifolium  Blackhaw Viburnum
Diospyros virginiana  Persimmon
Asimina triloba  Pawpaw
Cornus mas  Corneliancherry Dogwood
Cornus kousa  Kousa Dogwood
Cornus officinalis  Japanese Cornel Dogwood
Amelanchier laevis  Allegheny Serviceberry
Amelanchier arborea  Downy Serviceberry
Buddleia davidii  Butterfly-bush

These are just a few of the many possibilities.

>>My recommendation is to demand diversity on your campus.
>>The theme is popular with administrators and can apply
>>to your landscaping as well.  By diversity I don't mean
>>50 varieties of crabapple...some people do think that way.
>>Be sure you get one or two (for pollination and "safety
>>in numbers") of each of as many species as you can afford.
>>Near your science building, be sure to get a male and a
>>female ginkgo.  Most nurseries are not sure which sex
>>they are giving you...get a guarantee for a replacement
>>if the sexes are the same.  You should also get some dawn
>>redwood (Metasequoia) for the botany class.  Some red
>>pine is good so that in a few years you will have some
>>cones that will supply you with a flush of seeds in
>>spring semester.  Great for a slight heat-treatment to
>>pop the cones open rapidly.  At our latitude and climate,
>>douglas fir comes into male and female cones ready for
>>pollination just in time for my spring botany class...pines
>>here are much later.  You might want a range of different
>>Magnolia species (especially some late-flowering soulangeana
>>types) for the angiosperm labs.  I like a few forsythias
>>around for simple cross-sections stained with phloroglucinol,
>>but nothing beats good old staghorn sumac for that!  Yews
>>and junipers provide specimens with visible pollination
>>droplets.  I also like to be sure that the campus is planted
>>with native vegetation.  A walk in old woods gives you a
>>great idea of what will survive your winters and summers.
>>Given space and some TLC, our natives are gorgeous!  Plants
>>with low branches and large thorns are not popular with the
>>maintenance staff, but if you underplant with tough ground
>>cover (blue-rug juniper works well under our hawthorns) the
>>problem of those on mowers is eliminated.
>>You probably need to buy the biggest conifers you can find
>>(that come with a warranty for two years!).  If they are
>>evergreen and about the size of a Christmas tree for a dorm
>>room, you may find your young trees topped.  It's hard to
>>believe that people would destroy a 15yr old tree for a week
>>or two of "decoration" only to put it in the campus dumpster
>>after finals...before Christmas even comes...but it has
>>happened repeatedly on our campus.  Even Colorado blue spruce
>>has been topped here!  Planting deciduous conifers gives me
>>just a little bit of vicarous revenge!
>>The Rosa rugosa varieties are nice in places where parking
>>lot and sidewalk salt might accumulate.  They tolerate a fair
>>amount of salt and yet bloom profusely and fragrantly in
>>early summer.  Somewhere a collection of grasses is nice...
>>but not too close to air-intakes for ventilation systems.
>>Many people are allergic to grass pollens.  Other plants
>>that like waste areas include Equisetum arvense.  You can
>>transplant some, but tossing lots of collected cones in
>>the area will usually work too.  If the area is damp, so
>>much the better!
>>Unless you have a huge staff of groundskeepers, I'd shy
>>away from fancy roses.  They require too much care and
>>don't survive vandalism very well.  We are successful with
>>some of the Meidiland (sp) landscaping varieties that need
>>no sprays, dusts, or fertilization.
>>A collection of bamboos is wonderful if you have the space.
>>Controlling some of the spreading types is an important
>>issue, though.  An area with many criss-crossing sidewalks
>>might be a way to contain some of these.
>>Getting your campus staff trained for the pruning jobs is
>>important.  Many people think that shrubs should be cubes
>>and/or spheres.  It seems everyone wants to get into topiary
>>with every species!  If it isn't boxwood, don't shape the
>>shrubs is my plea.  Natural pruning (back to a branching
>>point) is the only way to go in my opinion.  This allows
>>you to keep a plant "in bounds" without destroying its
>>native form.  For example, forsythia needs to be pruned
>>once a year just after cut to the ground
>>every branch that is larger than your thumb in diameter.
>>Then you never touch the forsythia again that year!  It
>>will go to a beautiful "fountain" shape.  In the spring
>>you will have lovely arching canes loaded with blooms
>>(if the weather cooperates).  Natural pruning is once
>>per year...your grounds crew will love your idea!
>>Wood chips are OK as mulch to reduce trimming and weeding,
>>but shredded bark lasts longer and looks better.  The other
>>nice advantage to these mulches is the nice crop of slime
>>molds, stinkhorns, and other fungi they support for class
>>In cool damp areas on the north sides of the buildings,
>>don't forget the ferns.  Some need room to spread but
>>others are very "shy".  Some separation is needed to
>>avoid one species from "taking over".
>>Anyway, good luck!  Yours is a fun project...I envy you!
>>We did ours years ago and I am itching to do more!
>>                            |
>>Ross Koning                 | Koning at
>>Biology Department          |
>>Eastern CT State University | Phone: 860-465-5327
>>Willimantic, CT  06226  USA | Fax: 860-465-5213
>>                Plant Physiology is Phun!
>> /\|___/\     //\______COOH   NH-CH2-CH=C-CH2OH  \/OH
>>|  |  |  |    |  |  ||       //\___     \CH3     /\|/\\/\\COOH
>> \/ \/|\/|    \\/ \ /       N  ||  N            |  |
>> /\ | |__|=        NH       |  || ||           //\//\
>>  | COOH                    \\ /\ /            O
>>  COOH        H2C=CH2         N  NH

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