Homescaping Query
April 28, 2013 12:41 PM   Subscribe

What's a good bush to plant next to the front door? This is in coastal Massachusetts.

We moved into a house last year which has a bush by the front door that has to come out - it's a Common Buckthorn, which is a horrible aphid vector. What kind of nice bush could we plant in its place? I wouldn't mind something that flowers. It needs to be a bush that takes more of a tall/narrow form instead of a round spreading form, otherwise I'd love a hydrangea there. But it's a skinny space between the door and a bay window. Thanks for your suggestions.
posted by Miko to Home & Garden (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Can you tell us if it is a sunny or shady spot?
posted by humanfont at 12:59 PM on April 28, 2013

Rose of Sharon, prune as necessary.
posted by walla at 1:02 PM on April 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

The standard coastal MA answer to your question is Arbor Vitae. I used to work for a nursery in Hanover and it was ridiculous how much of that stuff the landscapers used. Perhaps you want something more creative (or flowery) but if what you want is a tall, narrow green thing that will do well in coastal Massachusetts then Arbor Vitae'll do the trick.
posted by Scientist at 1:40 PM on April 28, 2013

Arbor Vitae would definitely work. I'm not so sure about a Rose of Sharon, since they tend to grow wide and you would be pruning constantly to keep it down to a narrow shape. Similar to Arbor Vitae is a Columnar Juniper, which would also be nice in a tall, narrow spot.
posted by Bresciabouvier at 2:01 PM on April 28, 2013

Maybe a Dwarf Alberta Spruce?
posted by fancyoats at 2:22 PM on April 28, 2013

Response by poster: It's sunny half the day and shady half the day, near a south-facing door partly blocked by the house next door. It's a very warm spot because the driveway is protected and paved and it's in a little corner sheltered by the bay window.

We already have 5 Arbor Vitaes in another part of the yard (proving your point about their popularity!) and so I would like something different, probably not an evergreen.
posted by Miko at 2:25 PM on April 28, 2013

Response by poster: Oh, I love Rose of Sharons! I didn't know that's what they were called. They look a lot like a hollyhock in tree form. I don't mind the pruning...
posted by Miko at 2:27 PM on April 28, 2013

Elder - it brings you luck and wild birds, and you can eat the flowers and fruits. You can shape it easily.
A rose could be pretty as well, but requires more work with the pruning and stuff
posted by mumimor at 3:36 PM on April 28, 2013

A rose of sharon is an upright flowering tree that forms an umbrella shape naturally.

Its really not appropriate for what you are looking for. My suggestion is find the best nursury/garden center in your area and ask them for help.
posted by JPD at 3:48 PM on April 28, 2013

Pyracantha/firethorn can be trained on a lattice against a wall into an eye-catching upright shrub. I don't know if you're zone 6 or 7--some but not all varieties are hardy to zone 6 but because the location sounds sheltered you might be able to stretch your hardiness zone a little in that spot anyhow. Regardless, though, the varieties that are available locally should be suitable for your region.
posted by drlith at 5:08 PM on April 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

What about an antique climbing rose that can tolerate shade? They can be trained to grow narrowly, and their flowers are fragrant and very lovely. Also, if the variety is appropriate to the space and the climate they are very pest resistant and tough as nails.

I have a Zephirine Drouhin (1868) in my front yard that was pruned enthusiastically with hedge trimmers (!) last year and it has buds on it right now. It gets very little TLC and thrives nonetheless. Some rose varieties are known to flower in part shade, so one of them may be right for you.
posted by Lycaste at 5:42 PM on April 28, 2013

I have no direct experience, but live in eastern MA and have been trying to figure out where I could plant a sky pencil holly (ilex crenata cultivar). Shape is right, and hollys seem to like coastal MA.
posted by mr vino at 6:01 PM on April 28, 2013

There is a miniature Rose of Sharon, Lil' Kim, that might minimize your pruning, and I also like the idea of a climbing rose. I thought of Rose of Sharon because to me they're the quintessential coastal Mass. flowering bush.
posted by walla at 6:20 PM on April 28, 2013

It needs to be a bush that takes more of a tall/narrow form instead of a round spreading form, otherwise I'd love a hydrangea there.

We have a tall, narrow hydrangea! We didn't plant it; it was here when we bought the house. It has round, small (nearly baseball-sized) flower clusters and it's about six feet tall and two feet wide. The shoots grow off from the roots and don't really branch, so it would be easy to keep trimmed to a space but we haven't really had to do that.

My wife calls it a "Japanese Hydrangea," but a little search suggests that she's not using the right term. A Japanese Hydrangea exists, but it's not this shrub. I'm not having any luck getting a definitive answer on what our variety is, but ask at a garden center. They may be able to tell you what it is and if it suits.
posted by Mayor Curley at 5:26 AM on April 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks, everybody! This has given me some great possibilities to think about, and alerted me to a couple things I might not have thought of, and as many of you have recommended I plan to take my inquiry to a local garden center to see what they offer. I appreciate the advice!
posted by Miko at 6:51 AM on April 29, 2013

« Older Mods and support reps: techniques to remain calm...   |   Can you help translate this Italian phrase? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.