You Can Grow That ~ Connecticut

Can you smell it? It’s almost spring. Soon our gardens, whether in Connecticut, Colorado or somewhere in between, will be bursting into life.

The problem with many gardens I see as a landscape designer is that they are full of spring ‘one-hit wonders’. You know them, they look great for a few days or, if you’re luck, a few weeks, but then the show’s over.

These one-hit wonders (in my mind, the biggest one-hit wonder in many Connecticut gardens is the weeping higan cherry) don’t offer another season of interest and are taking up valuable garden space that could be home to a tree that offers several seasons of interest and is wildlife-friendly.

Instead…You Can Grow That!

Amelanchier arborea - © Janet Novak

Amelanchier arborea – © Janet Novak

One of my favorite native trees for Connecticut gardens is Amelanchier, also known as Juneberry, serviceberry, downy serviceberry, shadbush and apple serviceberry to name just a few of its common names.

Amelanchier is a genus composed of more than a dozen different species  of small deciduous trees.  For Connecticut gardeners, we have several native species that make excellent additions to our gardens — A. arborea, A. canandensis and A. laevis.  To muddy the waters even more, the most readily available and easily found Amelanchier , A. x grandiflora, is actually a hybrid between A. arborea and A. laevis.

The Basics

Enough with the botany lesson…regardless of where you garden and which species of Amelanchier you eventually plant, here are a few basics you should keep in mind:

♦ Serviceberry is hardy in zones 4 – 8 and is ideal for a woodland or naturalized garden setting.

♦ It grows in full sun to partial shade and tolerates a variety of soil and moisture conditions.  In the wild, it is often seen growing in wet, boggy areas but in a garden setting it is quite drought-tolerant once established.

♦ Depending on the species, a mature Amelanchier can be anywhere from 15′ – 30′ tall.   And you can find them as single-trunk trees or multi-stemmed specimens that behave more like large shrubs. Decide which one will work best in your garden and buy accordingly.

♦ If you’re looking for spectacular fall color, plant A. x grandiflora ‘Autumn Brilliance’.  It quickly grows into a 20′ tall specimen.

The Birds & The Bees

Amelanchier canadensis flowers

Amelanchier canadensis flowers

♦ Amelanchier is one of the first trees to flower in the spring so it is an important source of nectar for early pollinators.

♦ Research has shown that dozens of different kinds of wildlife feed on serviceberries.

♦ Songbirds find it’s summer berries irresistible.

♦ The berries are edible and reportedly make delicious jams, jellies and even berry cobbler, if you can get to them before the birds do.  Here in Connecticut, robins, northern catbirds, wood thrushes and scarlet tanagers all feed on Serviceberries.

♦ Amelanchier is not considered deer-resistant. If deer are an issue in your garden you may need to protect young trees until their canopy is out of deer-browsing range.

If planting a small tree is on your gardening to-do list this spring, check out Amelanchier and see if its right for your garden. And leave those one-hit wonders where they belong…in your neighbor’s garden.

You Can Grow That logoNote:  I’d like to thank C. L. Fornari of Whole Life Gardening  for cultivating and starting  You Can Grow That for garden bloggers all over the world.  You Can Grow That will be featured on  the fourth of every month.  Check out the other You Can Grow that posts on the official You Can Grow That Facebook page.

19 thoughts on “You Can Grow That ~ Connecticut

  1. Thanks for posting this! Came over from the Facebook page. I didn’t know some of those facts about serviceberry….I have two that are single-stemmed and planted as a street tree. I’m a fan! And I totally agree with you about “designed landscapes” where a plant does one thing for one part of the year and then just takes up space….: )

    • Jennifer, I’m so glad you found me and hope you’ll stop by again. Serviceberries make great street trees since they don’t get too big so they don’t impact any overheard utility wires.

    • Donna, They’re on my list this year, too. I’m thinking a grouping of three will look perfect in an area where we just had to take down some old trees. I don’t have lots of plants that berry so I’m sure the birds will love it.

  2. Thanks Debbie! Love the shadbush and your blog. I feel it is one of those rarely-considered natives that should be on everyone’s list Being first a fishery biologist, I always relate the blooming shadbush with the first upstream migrations of the riverine male shad. It is to me one of the first harbingers of spring, along with the wood frog and salamander migrations.

    • Cori, Thanks for the kind words, I’m glad you found the post interesting. I agree that shadblow should be on everyone’s must-have native plant list, but I’m not sure why so few peope know about it. I can see why you have a special affinity for this tree, given your occupation. :)

  3. Debbie, this tree has become a big favorite of mine. It does well in Colorado – we have a few native species here, too. I have an ‘Autumn Brilliance’ right outside my office window, and I love watching it through the seasons. It’s proven to be completely tolerant of the extreme high winds and heavy snow-loads of the Front Range. Thanks for highlighting this great garden tree!

    • Elsa, Yummy! I have a client who is really into growing her own food and once I told her about amelanchier she had to have one. I’ll have to check in with her and see if she’s every made any muffins with her berries.

  4. I’m in CT too (found you through the facebook page) and I agree Amalanchier is a great plant. Funny story, when I was in hort school, one of my most loved professors had a heavy New York accent. When ever he said Amalanchier, it sounded more like Amalanchi – a. I still call it that, even though I know it’s wrong… Happy to find your blog.

  5. We put in a A. x grandiflora ‘Autumn Brilliance’. and were told it was deer resistant as there are a lot of deer in this wooded area..Hmm…will have to address that..I want to plant for wildlife and native if possible but it means learning a whole new language…thank you for this info very much..Michelle

  6. I bought two of these when we first moved to our property and was delighted last year to see berries on one of the shrubs already. They didn’t last long though – the birds ate them straight away!

Please Feel Free to Comment, I'd Love to Hear From You...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s