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Old 10-26-2011, 09:08 AM   #11
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I love all of your suggestions! Doesn't Canada Hemlock become a HUGE tree? If we lived in northern Minnesota I would plant something like a Fir tree, I think those are so beautiful. But I think it would be out of place here near the prairie. (We are in a river valley in west central minnesota, we are 45 minutes east of the Dakotas, so the surrounding area is prairie but we have a little more flexibility in living in a wooded valley.)

I am especially attracted to the hawthorns (Crataegus) and also Eastern Red Cedar, since it's more native to my location. I actually knew nothing about Crataegus ssp. until recently. I read the large book "Trees and Shrubs of Minnesota" and was very interested to read about the wildlife value of hawthorns. On the other hand, I do have children in the yard. But there is a part of the yard where they usually don't go, which is a small woodland space. A large ash tree on the southern end of the space and a large crabapple on the northern end. I have so many ideas for this space. Woodland, understory shrubs. Would a hawthorn work here?

Can someone tell me how shrub-like Crataegus are/could be, as opposed to tree-like?

Other shade shrubs that sound interesting to me are:

Leatherwood (Dirca palutris)
Witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana)
Wolfberry or Snowberry (but aren't these shrubs very small?)
Or what about Buffaloberry? (Shepherdia argentea)

Also, would you say Eastern Red Cedar is a quick-grower or a slow grower?

Thanks so much, everyone! I will check out the book suggestions, too
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Old 10-28-2011, 01:45 AM   #12
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"Woodland, understory shrubs. Would a hawthorn work here?" Yes!!! For what it's worth... I've got quite a few and we've never had any problems with the kids when they were growing up. There is 1 out my backdoor that I love that I will admit to taking doggie toe nail clippers to a few times but that was only when we were having BBQs and knew there'd be little kids running around. We told em it was an ouch tree and to stay away from it and they did so I don't think I'd bother nipping off thorns again... little kids understand ouch. The height depends on the species but most of mine are around 20'. They have beautiful spring blossoms that last pretty long if that helps push ya over the edge.
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While you're in plant pickin' mode.... if you like the shade of that ash.... you might want to buy another nice native shade tree so you can get it going before the ash goes to ash heaven. They haven't been able to stop the emerald ash borer. You could plant a bareroot replacement species in close proximity to that ash or what the heck... plant a hawthorn next to it if you don't mind a tree that won't ever have any height to it. Planting something next spring would give it time to establish before the inevitable happens to your Fraxinus. I started planting native replacement species up in tight to existing ash on my property about 5 years because I knew it was only a matter of time before mine were hit. And the time has come.... EAB has been documented in my county. I will lose every ash on my property which is just downright depressing to me.
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Old 10-28-2011, 09:45 AM   #13
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Equilibrium, thanks for the post. Emerald ash borer han't yet reached us either, but I suppose it is inevitable. Can I ask where you are located? You make hawthorns sound wonderful. And thank you especially for your experiences with children around. Hawthorns sound like a good option for us, perhaps along with an Eastern Red Cedar ... thinking ahead to when the ash tree is no more.
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Old 10-28-2011, 09:42 PM   #14
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Ya... EAB... playing in a theater near all of us real soon. EAB reached us this year. 10 years ahead of schedule and... folk just keep on loading their trailers with firewood from home when they go camping. Makes me want to cry.
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I'm in northern IL up by the WI border waaaay over by Lk Michigan.
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I like the silhouette of hawthorns in winter too. There's just something about them that makes em stand out as a specimen tree in a snowy yard... they really do look great in all seasons. It's really underused as an ornamental. Kids definitely understand ouch... most aren't into pain. Neither am I. So far I'm the only 1 who got nailed by a hawthorn tree and that's because we had a bird feeder near 1 of ours that the squirrels kept launching from 1 branch then leaping onto the feeder and emptying it so I walked out with a big pair of loppers and stood underneath it when I cut off the branch. Stupid is as stupid does. If you're gonna run with a hawthorn... pick white cedar over red cedar. I dunno if you've got a camera or not but.... you might wanna post some photos. I'm pretty good with native woodies and what works with what where but... there's folk here with more design sense in their little toes than I've got in my whole body.
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Old 10-29-2011, 10:37 AM   #15
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Sure, I'll try to post a photo later this weekend. Not sure I'd say it's a "woodland" as we have only a small 1/4 acre yard that is fenced, but there is a lot of open ground under those trees. i'll post the photo soon.
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Old 11-10-2011, 10:05 AM   #16
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The roses native to Minnesota are Rosa acicularis (Prickly Rose), Rosa arkansana (Prairie Rose), Rosa blanda (Smooth Rose), Rosa carolina (Pasture Rose) and Rosa woodsii (syn. R. macounii) (Woods Rose). All are great shrubs for cover and also provide hips for food. Wood's Rose will do well in shade to full sun and R. acicularis, R. arkansana and R. carolina will also take part shade. They vary in height from the 18" groundcover-like R. arkansana to the 5 to 6 foot tall Wood's rose. All will sucker and create a thicket if allowed.

Here is a link to wild roses in Minnesota
Minnesota Profile: Prairie Wild Rose (Rosa arkansana): Minnesota Conservation Volunteer: Minnesota DNR
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Old 11-10-2011, 11:19 AM   #17
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BTW, some of the native species roses can be hard to find. High Country Roses in Utah is a good source for species roses, they are grown on their own roots and ship in quart containers. I've bought from them before and they are good folks. Prairie Moon up in your neck of the woods has R. arkansana and R. carolina bareroot and Shooting Star down here in mine has R. blanda and R. woodsii in pots. You may have a local source available, check with your Native Plant Society for sales and native plant nurseries.
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