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Fast Growing Trees
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Hybrid Poplar

Fastest

Deciduous
Hybrid Poplar
Weeping Willow
Silver Maple

Faster

Deciduous
Hardy Pecan

Green Ash
White Ash
Cimmaron Ash
Autumn Purple Ash

Tulip Poplar

Evergreen
Colorado Blue Spruce

Douglas Fir
Canadian Hemlock
Dawn Redwood

Fast

Deciduous
Black Walnut

Evergreen
Scotch or Scots Pine

Fast Growing Hedging Plants
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Deciduous
Hybrid Poplar
Siberian Elm

Evergreen
Canadian Hemlock

- tall one of the fastest
Arborvitae - American
- not so quick or so tall, more elegant
Douglas Fir

- good for wind break or background


Spring Flowering Bulbs and Winter Flowering Shrubs

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More about Fruit Trees: Apple and Crab-apples | Apricot | Cherry | Peaches and Nectarines | Pear | Plums and prunes | Pests and problems | Hints and tips

Three of the best Daffodils - more Daffodils

Daffodil Mount HoodMount Hood
Large white trumpet, good for naturalizing in grass

Daffodil King AlfredKing Alfred
Large yellow trumpet, good for naturalizing in grass
Daffodil Collection, Colorful CupfulDaffodil Collection, Colorful Cupful
Ice white petals, pink or lemon trumpets

Three of the best Tulips -  more Tulips

Tulip sampler collection
53 bulbs, 8 varieties
Tulip, White EmperorTulip, White Emperor
plant in a large shallow container - at least 8-10 bulbs for an extravagant and elegant spring treat
Tulip, RembrandtTulip, Rembrandt
Bright blooms streaked, striped, and splashed with contrasting colors.

Three of the best Hyacinths - more Hyacinths

Hyacinth, Large Exhibition-SizeHyacinth, Large Exhibition-Size
Forget anything you've ever smelled from a bottle, these are the real deal
Hyacinth, Blue IceHyacinth, Blue Ice
single color groups are ideal for containers, flowering at the same time
Hyacinth, City of HarlemHyacinth, City of Haarlem
pale yellow, that's Haarlem BTW - in Holland!
 
 

One of the secrets of having a garden that others envy is by planning things well in advance, by the time you admire something in the garden centre, it's often about 6 months too late to do anything about it for this year in your own garden. Bulb catalogues start to come out in August and the garden centres fill up with bulbs too, so start planning now for next spring and also for scent in the garden this winter.

   If you start before about the middle of September (but the sooner the better), you can have Spring Flowering Bulbs for the house in flower at or just after Christmas. If you can get them planted now, then they will have a chance to start growing before it begins to get very cold which will help them to flower all the earlier, they'll certainly be up early in the new year and long before the outdoor ones have woken up.

Grape hyacinth, Muscari

There are all sorts of spring bulbs to try and the available varieties increase each year.  

By all means try something out of the ordinary, but in the main stick to the old favourites, after all it's no accident that they are favourites. I've tried all manner of unusual things in the past, some of which have been reasonable, but many have flowered late, poorly or not at all. In particular, they are better outdoors, but don't all take quite so kindly to being indoors in pots.

In general think about scale when planting spring flowering bulbs. Apart from the odd warm sunny day that may tempt you out into the garden, you are going to appreciate your bulbs from a distance and either in the front garden or through a window at the back. So plant larger flowered varieties particularly if they're far away, always plant in clumps at any distance (one bulb usually gives one flower) and plant small flowered or dwarf varieties near to the house or in pots.

Hyacinths

Nothing surpasses the first hyacinths for scent, It's like time travel for the nose having wonderfully fragrant hyacinths in full bloom in the middle of the winter, it always seems like the greatest luxury.

Before you plant them up, unless they are "prepared" they will need to be convinced that winter has been and gone. Place them in a dark place (a brown paper bag is good) somewhere in the refrigerator (not the freezer!) for at least two weeks, then take them out in mid to late September and plant them up in bowls.

Plant 3 or 4 of one color per bowl. The bulbs should be almost touching with a small gap between them so they actually aren't. Don't be tempted to mix different varieties as the chances are they won't flower all at the same time. I tend to go for the blues and whites, which as well as being my favourite flower colors, are reliable.

After planting put them somewhere sheltered and dark in the garage/ shed or wherever, keep them cool and take a peek every now and then to make sure they're growing.

Once they're about 3 inches tall, they can be brought into the house and kept somewhere cool, 50-60F. If your timing is right you'll have your very own home grown hyacinths for Christmas! If you get it a bit wrong, don't worry, they'll still flower in the depths of winter and you get the wonderful scent.

Outdoor hyacinths are best planted near to the house where you will see them and smell them, even the large varieties are very close to the ground. Alternatively I plant them out of the way but near a path, there's a large patch now at the bottom of the garden near the compost heap, (no, not to get rid of the smell), but for cutting and bringing into the house. I can't ever remember buying a hyacinth bulb and planting it into the soil directly, all of ours are ex-container grown ones that spent their first year in the house.

Tulips

Tulips are amongst my favourite flowers of any type, they manage to balance symmetrical perfection with a faultless elegance of proportion with that indefinable delicacy and vulnerability that the finest flowers have.

Best planted in groups of one variety, this applies to all bulbs, but more so for tulips than any of the others, why anyone should buy a bag of "mixed varieties and colors" is beyond me.

Take care if you have yellow tulips and daffodils, they can get rather mixed up when flowering together.

Of the other colors, traditional large reds are very robust and will grow in most places, but the finest to my eye at least are the white and pink lily-flowered varieties. These have rather taller thinner flowers than most tulips with a slightly out-turned tip to each petal.

Grown in containers for the house tulips are an extravagance as you need a large container and the flowers are rather short lived if you bring them into the warmth. I'd never be without a couple of large bowls of my favourites though, bring them indoors in the day and place them outside somewhere sheltered in the evening. If you have a cool (non-heated) conservatory, all the better.

The shops and markets in spring will be full of freshly cut tulips of the common shapes and shades, so go for something a little out of the ordinary. Smaller species tulips are becoming more commonly available, they don't seem to do so well indoors but are ideal for a large outdoor container, just outside the front door is one of the best places to appreciate them as often as possible.

Daffodils and Narcissi

Many daffadowndillysDaffodil or Narcissus? The botanical name is Narcissus and so all daffodils are Narcissi. A daffodil is an artificial category dreamt up by gardeners for narcissi that have long trumpets - and usually that are wholly or mainly yellow in colour. If a Narcissus has a short cup-shaped trumpet and particularly if it has pale petals and the trumpet is darker in colour, it will be referred to as a Narcissus.

The larger flowered varieties look good when planted through grass, plant them in clumps of around 10 bulbs rather than dotted around. This makes them look more spectacular when they flower and easier to deal with the leaves after flowering. Long thin single rows of flowers just look a bit sad somehow.

Bear in mind though if you're tempted to go for one of those giant sacks of bulbs that it's actually quite a task to plant them at the correct depth (the top of the bulb should be about twice it's height below the surface of the soil) and that they should be planted as soon as possible after buying them.

To plant in grass, cut a large X with a spade, this will give you four 2-sided triangles (you'll see what I mean when you do it!) peel back the sod of each of these triangles (you won't actually be able to "peel" - you'll need to force the spade a couple of inches under the turf to loosen it first). You then have a square of soil to plant your bulbs in. I strongly suggest that you have a large sheet of something standing by to put the soil on that you dig out (with a spade - trowels encourage small shallow holes - spades encourage larger). Plant your bulbs, replace the soil, fold the sod back over and tread it down gently.

You could use one of those bulb planters that looks like a bottomless tin-can with a handle - depends whether or not you think you've enough junk in the shed.

The shorter multi-headed varieties look better up close than at a distance and so are better placed in containers around the house or in pots to bring into the house, these do better indoors in pots and again the shops will be full of cheap cut flowers of the larger varieties.

Planting in containers

The key point to remember is that these are temporary plantings, so you can plant the bulbs very close together, almost touching, for the maximum density of flowers. Buy the largest bulbs you can afford, smaller ones just don't perform as well and the smallest may produce lots of leaves but no flowers at all. After flowering plant them in the garden as soon as you can, they won't perform as well next year, you need to start with large bought ones again.

Bulb fibre is often recommended, but is only really necessary if the bulbs are to be planted in bowls without drainage. I've always treated bulbs like any other container plants and use ordinary potting compost in containers that have drainage holes and get excellent results.

    Winter scent and flowers outdoors

Many plants outdoors will continue to grow until the frosts start in October or maybe even November (it seems to get later every year), so you can plant shrubs now to get them established and ready to perform as soon as the alarm clock rings next spring.

It's well worth putting a winter flowering shrub in now to appreciate it's efforts when much of the fruits of your gardening efforts are still distant hopes. To get much flower the first year, they need to be fairly biggish specimens already. Plant them near to the door or along well used paths, You're going to be less inclined to traipse down to the bottom of a wet and largely dormant garden to smell one particular bush, however tempting it may be.

Viburnum bodnantense "Dawn" - Fragrant rose-tinted flowers borne on bare wood from late autumn to early spring. Eventually to 10ft tall by 6ft wide. Not too fussy about soil. If you only have one winter flowering shrub, have this one.
Chimonanthus  praecox - Winter Sweet. Similar in size, and habit to the Viburnum above, but with yellow flowers not as long lasting.
Hamemelis - witch hazel. Large deciduous shrub with fragrant frost-resistant spidery flowers in winter that are yellow or shades of orange depending on variety. Produces brilliant golden yellow autumn foliage as well, which looks good if underplanted with purple autumn crocuses, Colchicum speciosum (only available in late summer and need to planted immediately). Best in full sun, not keen on an exposed site. To 12ft high and wide, 5ft high and wide for Hamemelis x intermedia pallida.
Mahonia. Evergreens with holly-like leaves and a very "architectural" habit. Fragrant yellow flowers in large quantities once the plant gets going. Ultimately to 10ft x 10ft but takes ages to get there and easily contained to lesser sizes. Recommended M. aquifolium "Apollo" - Oregon Grape, shade tolerant. M. x media "charity", not quite as hardy or shade tolerant, but a more gracious plant. A strong rival to Viburnum "Dawn" above with the evergreen advantage.

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